Currently in Rhode Island court 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 to become the first state to add an amendment to the states divorce laws that gives major implications for animal welfare.

Rhode Island divorce cases generally will consider animal’s as property, just as furniture or vehicles. Under this new amendment in Alaska, couples can have legal joint custody of a pet and decisions will be 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 abusers will be required to pay support to their victims.

These progressive amendments 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.

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

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  1. March 31, 2018

    There is currently the first case of this in a divorce going through the courts in Kenai. The judge, who is Judge Wells has repeatedly dismissed any concern as required by this amendment & has stated she does not care about the dogs. The one in possession of 3 of the 4 (2 are microchipped to each person) has reports against him for beating the dog, covering up a dog bit his grandson, threatening & disparaging an animal control officer who tried to do a welfare check, and now the animals are missing and presumed killed – one of whom was a service dog. Apr 3, 2018 @ 930 AM is the case @ Kenai courthouse if anyone would like to attend. Please pack the courthouse, spread the word. This is NOT right. Those animals deserved better.

  2. November 11, 2017

    I am working a case now that involves this issue, and its been difficult to get the court to factor in the wellbeing of the dog in question, but I’m working it, and hopeful I can succeed!

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