If you have a dog, you may well feel a deep emotional attachment to your pet. There was a time when pets were regarded primarily as property. Dogs especially were looked upon to do essential jobs for their families. Today, however, most dogs are considered to be essential companions and even members of the family. That can be a lovely thing, but it can also add to the complexity of a divorce when both spouses wish to keep the dog. 

States enacting laws about pet custody 

To date, most states have not yet officially addressed the issue of how to decide which spouse may get to keep a pet after a divorce, but this is starting to happen. Illinois and Alaska led the way with their laws on the matter in 2017. Since then, California enacted a law that directed divorce court judges to review key factors when deciding where a pet should live after an owner divorce. 

Essential elements to be considered included who provided basic care to the pet. This care may include anything from walking and playing with the dog, taking the dog to the vet for regular or other care, feeding the dog and essentially spending time with the dog. Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia are also said to be considering pet custody legislation. 

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give divorcing spouses in Massachusetts an overview of how some states are approaching the decisions about pet custody in a divorce so that they may glean ideas on how they may discuss this issue during their divorce.