A Delaware woman is advocating for the state to recognize pets as family members rather than property in a divorce as a result of her own distressing experience. In the contentious divorce that was the subject of a recent news story, the judge split up the woman’s two dogs in much the same way as two television sets or couches. The woman is asking Delaware lawmakers to change how courts handle pets, noting that Alaska and Illinois both take into account where the dog resided during the separation and who provides its care.

How is this issue handled in Pennsylvania? Under current Pennsylvania law, pets are not considered family and courts will not enforce terms of custody.

A bill proposed in 2019 set out to change the rules regarding pet placement. Lawmakers provided six criteria, including who acquired the pet prior to or during marriage, who provides the primary care, and who has the financial means to own a pet. However, the bill did not move past the House of Representatives.

According to the most recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, more and more couples are planning ahead to avoid potential “fur-baby” custody disputes. The survey also noted that pets often remain with the children in a marriage.

So many aspects of divorce can be complicated. That’s why it’s helpful to consult a top Bucks County family law attorney to help guide you through the process. Contact Williams Family Law at 215-340-2207 or email info@bucksfamilylawyers.com.