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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 29, 2019 11:53 AM
From: Representative Anita Astorino Kulik
To: All House members
Subject: Pet Custody in Divorce Cases
During my career as an attorney, I have witnessed too many divorce proceedings in which a couple could not agree on the best arrangement for a beloved pet. At times, a pet can be used by one party as leverage against the other when negotiating the division of assets. Current law provides no special provisions for pets, instead they are treated the same as a couch or other inanimate objects in divorce proceedings.

It is time that Pennsylvania establishes the following factors for judges to consider when deciding the custody of a pet:
  • Whether the animal was acquired prior to or during the marriage;
  • The basic daily needs of the animal;
  • Who generally facilitates veterinary care and social interaction for the animal;
  • Who generally ensures compliance with local and state regulations, such as licensing; and
  • Who provides the greater ability to financially support the animal.

Parties would also be able to enter into an enforceable agreement outside of a divorce decree that provides for the possession and/or care for a companion animal.

Please join me in easing one facet of the difficult divorce process by giving judges the ability to recognize the emotional attachment we have to our pets, in addition to considering the well-being of a companion animal when determining its custody and care.

Introduced as HB1432