ABA Animal Law Cases


…from one issue… (there are many)

…….Navigating emotionally draining divorce cases is never easy, but in California, trial judges will now have more leeway to determine who gets the family pet. In January, California became the third state in the U.S. to adopt a law that allows judges to consider what’s in the best interests of the animal rather than treating the pet like other inanimate property, such as a car. Alaska and Illinois have passed similar laws since 2016. The new laws are groundbreaking because they come amid growing interest in protecting pets and settling disputes over them.

As in a child custody case, according to attorney Barbara J. Gislason, a judge might take into account factors such as whether one person cares for, trains and takes the dog on walks every day while the other spouse not only ignores the dog but mistreats it.

Gislason, author of Pet Law and Custody: Establishing a Worthy and Equitable Jurisprudence for the Evolving Family, says she expects the remaining 47 states will pass similar laws addressing pet custody in the next decade. One big reason is shifting societal attitudes toward pets and the growing cultural view in the U.S. that companion animals are family members.