Pets rights in divorce, at least Alaska has them
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Pets rights in divorce, at least Alaska has them



Currently in Rhode Island courts and across the United States, a family court Judge can choose to consider pet wellbeing in a divorce case. In January Governor Bill Walker, signed legislation in Alaska and became the first state to add an amendment to the states divorce laws giving major implications for animal welfare. The amendment gives pets rights in divorce and other cases.

Rhode Island divorce cases generally will consider animal’s as property. Just as they consider furniture or vehicles. Under this new amendment in Alaska, couples can now have legal joint custody of a pet. And such decisions to award custody are based on the wellbeing of the animal.


In addition to this, Alaska law now protects pets in domestic violence cases. In a restraining order, courts have the right to now include the animals. The courts would then require the abusers to pay support to their victims.

These progressive amendments giving pets rights in divorce and other cases have given food for thought to other states including for divorce lawyers in Rhode Island. “Pets are truly members of our families. We care for them as more than just property. As such, the courts should grant them mores considerations”, stated Rep Liz Vasquez, who sponsored the bill. And so pets rights in divorce may happen soon.


Traditionally pets are simply treated as personal property such as the furniture in your house. Now, if pets are given rights, and schedules for “parenting time” set up, would the courts next begin establishing holiday schedules? And would mental illness or medical marijuana issues effect custody, as they now can for children?

Source: Huffington Post, “In Alaska, Divorce Courts Must Now Consider Pet Wellbeing” 1/26/17

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Don Moyer is a Rhode Island attorney who focuses his practice on family and divorce law. He obtained his legal education at Roger Williams University School of Law. Don’s undergraduate degree is in Finance and Business Administration. His finance degree is a critical benefit to clients litigating any issues relating to real estate, retirement division, hidden assets, support, or any variety of other financial issues.

Don also spent a number of years in the U.S. Army Infantry, including spending a year in the Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary region of Europe in a special operations unit in the immediate aftermath of the Bosnian conflict in 1996-97.

Don has over 21 years of experience litigating and mediating divorce and family law cases in Rhode Island.

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