Despite the law considering it as such, a pet is more than one’s personal property. Humans consider pets part of the family, especially with their warmth and companionship. Naturally, pets are one of the things to consider when spouses go through a divorce or separation. But how do courts decide who keeps it? Generally, the law treats pets as part of property distribution in a divorce proceeding. However, Alaska has a different perspective on the issue.
A unique factor
Courts usually consider various circumstances, like which partner mostly paid for the pet food, vet costs and other pet expenses, when deciding who gets ownership of the animal. But in Alaska, courts also consider a pet’s well-being.
Animal cruelty laws recognize that pets’ physical and mental well-being should be adequately cared for. And this applies to divorce and separation cases. A pet might have a stronger emotional attachment to one of the partners, and it may be the best option to award that partner custody. Moreover, judges have the power to award sole or joint custody of pets.
Under the same law, courts can protect pets from cruelty and neglect by including them in domestic violence protective orders. If applicable, the court can also order the abuser to pay pet support.
One’s desires should not hinder a pet’s proper care
It is understandable for separating partners to keep their pets. But even if each partner wishes to get sole custody of their animal companion, their desires should not hinder their pet from getting the proper physical and mental health care they need.