A law recently passed in Alaska requires judges in divorce cases to consider a pet’s well-being before deciding which parent gets “custody” of the pet.
This is the first law in the country that has addressed this issue; pets have traditionally been treated the same as other marital property. Animal rights activists are hailing the law as an important step towards making sure that animals get a fair shake when their ownership gets called into question.
From an emotions-of-the-participants standpoint, this type of law may create stress where there was none before (but maybe that’s OK).
For example, Person A and B are engaged. Person A buys dog (“Spot”) before the marriage. Both owners love Spot, but Person B does the majority of the feeding/walking, etc. Let’s say after two years, this couple files for divorce. Under the existing laws, Spot may very well go to person A, who bought Spot/took ownership of Spot pre-marriage. Under this new law, however, the judge would be required to consider Spot’s well-being. Given that Person B did most of the caring for Spot, it’s entirely possible that Person B is granted custody.
To be sure, the animal’s well-being is not THE determining factor, just one of a number of factors to be considered. Even so, what do you think of this law? Totally fair and a good idea? Unfair to some owners? Completely unnecessary?