In a First, Alaska Divorce Courts Will Now Treat Pets More Like Children
…That’s why an amendment to Alaska’s divorce statutes, which took effect last week, is making waves in the world of animal law. It makes Alaska the first state in the country to require courts to take “into consideration the well-being of the animal” and to explicitly empower judges to assign joint custody of pets. In a blog post, the Animal Legal Defense Fund called the well-being provision “groundbreaking and unique.”
…As animals’ social status has evolved, courts nationwide have struggled with the pets-as-property idea, said Kathy Hessler, director of the Animal Law Clinic at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore. The parties involved often want decisions on custody, visitation and even monetary support for a pet, she said. But existing statues that guide such matters are designed to address children, not animals (which some courts think is just fine, at least in Canada).