Who gets the dog in the divorce?
Currently, pets are treated like other inanimate objects or property in Pennsylvania divorces. A bill introduced on May 8, 2019 by Rep. Anita Astorin Kulik seeks to establish factors to determine who should get a companion animal in a divorce:
The bill describes companion animals as a “domesticated living being referred to as a pet” or an animal which “has been bought, bred, raised or otherwise acquired in accordance with applicable law for the primary purpose of providing the owner with assistance in relation to a disability, security or companionship, rather than for business or agricultural purposes.”
When determining who should be awarded the family pet, H.R. Bill 1432 provides six factors the court should consider:
(1) Whether the companion animal was acquired prior to or during the marriage.
(2) The basically daily needs of the companion animal.
(3) The party who generally facilitates veterinary care for the companion animal.
(4) The party who generally provides the companion animal with social interaction.
(5) The party who generally ensures the compliance with State and local regulations regarding
the companion animal.
(6) The party who provides the greater ability to financially support the companion animal.
Finally, the bill gives some guidance in agreements in that they may provide for the periods of time during which each party will possess the companion animal and the financial responsibility of each party regarding the care of the companion animal. This essentially allows for the court have pet custody agreements entered into by agreement of the parties.