By Alexandra Mulé
Governor Kathy Hochul signed a new law this week that addressed how pets should be treated in a divorce. Traditionally in New York, when couples were divorcing, their pets were treated as property. The Court would not take into account who primarily cared for the pet or who the pet should live with. Couples traditionally would not agree to divorce settlements and would instead engage in a bitter divorce over who would get to keep the pet. Often, the spouse that purchased the pet was the one who was entitled to keep the pet. Now that the law was signed by the Governor, pets will no longer be treated the same as regular household items such as tv’s, dining room tables, or even the couch.
The new law will require judges in divorce proceedings to consider the animals best interests when deciding which spouse should get custody. Judges may take into consideration which spouse most often fed the animal, took the animal to the vet, walked the animal, or even spent the most time with the animal. Custody battles over pets are becoming more and more common and this law will help the Court determine how to resolve these disagreements.