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One state is treating pets like kids in divorce proceedings

Couples in Pennsylvania who have made the often difficult decision to end their marriage also have other choices to make. Many divorce petitions include requests for dividing assets, child support and custody arrangements and alimony. One state has just become the first to require judges to consider the welfare of any pets owned by the couple when they make their final ruling on a divorce.

Although judges have always had a choice whether to include the well-being of a pet in their decisions, new amendments to the divorce laws in that state now require a judicial resolution regarding pet welfare. The owners are also able to agree upon legal joint custody, if they so choose. The bill was introduced because many people feel their pets are more like children than property and want the courts to recognize that sentiment.

One of the other amendments to divorce laws in Alaska concerns the protection of pets in domestic abuse situations. Pets can now be included in restraining orders, and abusers will have to make support payments for any harm that is inflicted. Many victims of domestic violence stay with their abusers because of their concern for their pets. It remains to be seen if the new law in Alaska will gain traction in other states.

A divorce petition is a legal request for the court to end a marriage. The process for filing varies for each state, and some issues can be complicated for those who do not know the laws in detail. Any mistakes can be costly, so the representation of a professional who has a thorough comprehension of the divorce laws in Pennsylvania will ensure the best possible outcome in the proceedings.

Source: huffingtonpost.com, "In Alaska, Divorce Courts Must Now Consider Pet Wellbeing", Hilary Hanson, Jan. 26, 2017

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