New York has now become one of the few states in the country where pets will be treated similarly to children in divorce cases. Up until now, deciding who got to keep a pet was a property division issue. Now, the best interests of the pet will have to be considered.
New law goes into effect immediately
Gov. Kathy Hochul signed off on the new pet law that was championed by Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan. The pet custody law will be effective immediately and include all companion animals that are kept by divorcing spouses. Glick said that, in the past, pets were sometimes used as bargaining chips in contested divorce cases.
Family court judges will now have to consider several factors when deciding who gets custody of an animal. Judges will look at who spent the most time with the animal and who provided the animal with its daily care. This could prevent spouses from doing things like bargaining for pet custody in exchange for financial assets.
Animal advocates support the law change
The director of the New York State Animal Protection Federation stated that the new pet custody law should be good for animals. She said that the new law should allow pets to be quickly placed with the person who will provide them with the best life.
What if both spouses care for the pet equally?
Since the pet custody law is new, time will tell how it will play out in cases where two spouses share pet care responsibilities equally. If you are going through a divorce that involves a shared pet, you may want to gather evidence to support your position just like you would in a child custody case.