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One state will consider pet "custody" during divorce

Many Texas residents are aware that family courts are unlikely to weigh in on the "custody" of pets. Now, however, one state has enacted legislation that will compel family court judges to change the way that pet custody issues are handled during divorce. That comes as a relief to pet owners who feel strongly that their animals deserve to live with the party who is best able to provide for their care.

The new law was signed into effect on Jan. 17. It states that judges must consider the well-being of pets when faced with a case in which the parties are unable to come to an agreement on pet ownership. The law also allows for joint custody of a pet, if the court determines that to be the best available course of action.

That same state also has new legislation concerning how pets are to be handled during domestic violence cases. Pets may now be included in the language within restraining orders. Victims of domestic violence are able to seek financial support from an abusive partner to provide for the care of one or more pets. Those who support the law claim that it is an important step toward encouraging domestic violence victims to leave an abusive situation.

Currently, only one state -- Alaska -- allows for pet custody to play a role in a divorce case. However, other states could soon follow suit. That change could come as a relief to Texas pet owners who feel as though their beloved animals are valued part of their family.

Source: The Huffington Post, "In Alaska, Divorce Courts Must Now Consider Pet Wellbeing", Hilary Hanson, Jan. 26, 2017

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