New law considers welfare of pets in divorce proceedings

Americans have a love affair with their pets. In many cases they treat them as fur-covered children, and now, in some divorce proceedings, the court will do the same. While there is no new law that will affect Kentucky residents at this time, the matter can create much debate when spouses are seeking a dissolution.

There are many serious concerns that need to be decided when a couple decides that it is in their best interest to seek a divorce. At the top of the list for the majority of parents is resolving child custody and support along with determining how to settle financial affairs. For those who have deep attachments to their pets, the possibility of losing them to the former spouse may be just as emotionally upsetting as losing custody of a child.

In Kentucky, most of the family courts consider pets as property to be disbursed as the judge sees fit in those cases where the spouses cannot settle the matter between them. Illinois has now joined Alaska in passing a law that will treat pets in a similar manner as children. In many cases, divorcing couples may be ordered to share custody of pets rather than have one spouse be awarded sole custody. The new law pertains only to companion animals and does not apply to dogs or other animals that are used as service animals.

Family law professionals have claimed that there has been a decreased demand for custody agreements for pets in the recent past. However, for those few cases that arise, the new law may help judges take the well-being of the pets involved into consideration much as a court will do for children. Kentucky residents who are struggling to resolve any of the issues that are common during a divorce may be uncertain as to how to proceed. Many residents may benefit from the information and guidance that an experienced family law attorney can provide.

Source: chicagotribune.com, "New state law treats pets more like children in custody cases", Leonor Vivanco-Prengaman, Dec. 25, 2017

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