Amid all of the news about the economy and the elections, I have come across a new proposed bill in the New Jersey Assembly . Specifically, proposed bill A-2663 provides that court shall make order respecting custody of domestic companion animals in divorce upon request. The definition of domestic companion animal includes pets.
The bill further provides that, "Parties may enter into an enforceable agreement regarding the care or custody of a domestic companion animal that may include: (1) the periods of time during which each party will possess the domestic companion animal; and (2) the financial responsibility of each party regarding the care of the domestic companion animal.
Though this has come up in my practice before, it is not come up often. In fact, in a few cases in the past, requests for dog visitation were withdrawn when my client asked for dog support. However, I have heard of cases where people have actually had dog custody trials. There are some states and some judges in this state that feel that pets are property. Perhaps this bill legitimizes the issue. It remains to be seen, however, what factors a court would consider regarding the custody and support issues.
To view the bill, click here. If and when the bill is passed, we will update this blog accordingly.