When a couple gets a divorce, everything that was accumulated during the marriage is divided between the husband and wife in most states. It is easier if they agree on certain conditions before they go to court. However, if the husband and wife can't or won't decide between the two of them, then a judge will step in and make decisions for them.

When it comes to property, it is divided. When it comes to children, a decision has to be made about custody. Depending on the circumstances, it could be sole custody or joint custody. There are laws in regard to property and to children, but where do Pets fit in?

Who gets the dog, cat, gerbil or gold fish when a couple divorces?

Are pets treated as property or children?

It has to be decided it pets fall into the category as property, or if they fall in the same category as children. Up to now, all 50 states considered pets as property. Last week an amendment was made to Alaska’s Divorce statutes regarding pets. Alaska adopted House Bill NO. 147 that states pets have the same rights as children when a couple divorces. Courts usually decide in the "best interest of the children." Alaska makes the same claim when it comes to pets. The law does not include fish. So, the couple will have to decide between themselves what's the best interest for that gold fish in the bowl and for other fish in the tank.

Custody of pets

In order to determine who gets custody of household pets, it must be confirmed if the pet was owned by either party before the marriage, or if they purchased the pet together during the marriage. It is clear that if the pet belonged to either one before marriage, that person gets to keep the pet when they divorce.

If the pet was purchased during the marriage, then the pets must be treated as children. Therefore, a judge will decide on sole custody, joint custody, and even visitation rights.

Who gets to keep the pet?

Some people argue that pets should stay with the children if the couple had children. Others argue that pets should remain with the person who purchased them.

If the pet was bought with household money, then one person could buy the other person out. Like children, there could be sole custody or joint custody of pets. If one party gets sole custody, there could be visitation rights for the other party.

What do you think about the legislation which became effective January 17, 2017 that added pet custody to Alaska's divorce cases? Do you think other states will do the same?

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