In most states, pets are viewed legally as property, to be equitably distributed in a divorce.
In practice, pets typically follow the children in a divorce.
But what about when the pets are the children, the only children?
Childless couples can be as attached to their “pet children” as couples with human children are to their children.
The law’s very different current view of pets can be powerful incentive to settle pet “custody” by mutual agreement, rather than incur the displeasure of a judge.
But change may be in the wind.
More and more divorcing couples do see what happens to the family pets as a custody / visitation issue.
And the Animal Legal Defense Fund is lending support to their cause.
In an 18 page friend of the court legal brief, the Fund makes it clear that pets do have preferences as to caretakers and the best interests of the pet deserve consideration.
And animal law, including animal rights law, is gaining recognition as a distinct branch of the law.
It’s likely only a matter of time before custody law catches up to pet owners’ (or pet parents’) perceptions.
Read more in this Hartford Courant article: It Can Be A Regular Dog Fight.