Custody of the Family Pet Is Closer to Becoming a Thing

Husband and Wife are divorcing.

Miscellaneous property.

No kids.

Just Fido.

Adopted during the marriage.

Both adore him.

Neither can bear not to see him again.

Any animal lover can relate.

Other than American family court judges.

Who have stubbornly rejected treating pets as anything besides personal property, a thing to be distributed based solely on their monetary value.

That has been the divorce law of the land.

Until now.

Alaska has broken the ice. Finally.

From now on, Alaska family court judges will decide the “ownership or joint ownership” of family pets following divorce, based on the “well-being of the animal”.

This is a significant paradigm shift.

Consistent with cultural changes in recent years.

And numbers of private divorce settlement agreements.

And perhaps the occasional rogue divorce court ruling.

It remains to be seen though whether or, more likely, when, other states will follow in Alaska’s footsteps.


  1. this Washington Post article: In a first, Alaska divorce courts will now treat pets more like children and
  2. this [UK] Daily Mail article: Alaska divorce courts will now treat pets more like children – giving judges the power to determine custody .