Thoughts on Pets in Divorce Proceedings
What’s the difference between a dog and a TV?
Under Michigan divorce law – not much.
Laws on the division of property in a divorce or annulment treat “companion animals” – aka pets – the same as any other property: the living room sofa, the family china, or the 70” TV.
While Michigan’s criminal law requires owners of dogs and cats (and other animals) to provide adequate care for their pets and punishes owners who treat their animals cruelly or allow them to suffer “unnecessary neglect, torture, or pain,” concerns for pets’ welfare form no part of Michigan divorce law. A pet’s fate in a divorce is largely decided by who it belonged to before marriage, or who paid for its acquisition, and who spent the most – or the most time — on its care. The pet’s preference is not considered.
As one court noted, there is an “obvious dissonance between the emotional investment at the heart of the human-pet relationship and the current legal system, which identifies [a much-loved pet] as ‘property’ … identified in terms of her economic worth.” A Texas court succinctly summed up the situation: “A dog, for all its admirable and unique qualities, is not a human being and is not treated in the law as such. A dog is personal property, ownership of which is recognized under the law.
And, as property, a dog may be the subject of property division.
Division of Marital Property
Approaches to property division in America fall into two camps.
First, Michigan and the majority of states in the country follow the “equitable division doctrine” which uses principles of fairness and equity to divide marital property based on the facts of the particular marriage. Under this doctrine, equitable is not always equal, although there is a presumption that the division of marital property will be roughly fair.
Second, a minority of states approach marital property from a “community property” perspective, under which marital assets and property, including earnings, are divided equally between the spouses. Assets bought by one spouse during the marriage with funds earned during marriage – a category that could include Rover or Fido — would be divided equally.
Under either theory of property division, the court must first determine what property is marital, and subject to division, and what property is non-marital, or separate and should be distributed to the spouse who owns it without division. In some circumstances, even separate property may be viewed as marital property. For example, when the spouse who does not own the property shows that he/she “contributed to its acquisition, improvement, or accumulation,” the property may become marital property –” — a factor that could lead to a finding that the Golden Retriever purchased by the husband but walked daily by the wife is marital property to be divided.
Michigan law doesn’t strictly define marital property, but case law suggests it includes property that has “accumulated through the joint efforts of the parties during their marriage,” as well as property “that came to either party by reason of the marriage.” As in most states, separate property is usually distributed to the spouse who can document ownership.
When dividing marital property, Michigan law instructs courts to consider the following: (1) the length of the marriage; (2) the needs of the parties; (3) the needs of the children; (4) the earning power of the parties; (5) the source of the property; (6) where the contributions toward property acquisitions came from; and (7) the cause of the divorce, including fault in the breakdown of the marriage. Case law, however, provides little guidance on who should get Lassie. Statutes similarly provide little assistance on this issue, but family law attorneys working on a divorce where a pet is involved might consider:
- MCL 552.19 The court may restore to either party property that has come to the other “by reason of the marriage” or may make a money award in lieu of restoration.
- MCL 552.401The court may award to one spouse property owned by the other if it appears “equitable under all of the circumstances of the case” and the claiming spouse contributed to its “acquisition, improvement, or accumulation.”
- MCL 552.23 A court may award one spouse a “just and reasonable” share of the other spouse’s separate property if the marital property awarded to the recipient is “insufficient for the suitable support” of that party and any children in his or her custody.
- MCL 700.2807A divorce or an annulment revokes a will provision naming the former spouse as a beneficiary, personal representative, trustee, or holder of a special power of appointment unless the will specifically provides otherwise. Remarriage to the same spouse revives these provisions.
- MCL 552.22 The court may require either party to disclose his or her property interests under oath.
Michigan’s legal community has not been eager to change the status quo and add a special status for pets.
In 2007, then-Rep. Michael Sak (D-Grand Rapids) introduced a bill that would have required parties in a divorce or annulment to disclose, inter alia, when a pet was acquired, and whether the parties had “a written agreement for the placement of the pet.” If the parties did not have an agreement, or were unable to arrive at an agreement, the court could order that the pet be “surrendered to a local humane society.” Under the proposed law, the court could enforce the parties’ agreement to “shared placement” of the pet. 2007 HB 5598
On February 2, 2008, the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan expressed its firm opposition to the bill. Comments like “lacks judicial economy,” and “Judges don’t grant visitation of television sets in divorce” were used to reject the notion of attaching any type of special property status to pets in divorce.
The bill was referred to committee, but never emerged out of it.
It has been argued that a statute like HB 5598 might open the divorce law floodgates to requests to share custody of sentimental property such as a wedding gift from a deceased parent, or a fourth-generation engagement ring smuggled out of Nazi Germany. But no matter how much the parties to a divorce may litigate for possession of such treasured items, these objects do not have the same emotional status as pets. As a Texas court recognized, “People do not plan memorial services, or invest in serious medical treatment for their books or lawnmowers [as they do for their dogs]. They don’t plan to pay more in insurance premiums than the purchase price or replacement cost of the property they seek to protect. Individuals do not … seek visitation arrangements for their televisions upon the termination of their marriages.”
Whether a change in law would open such floodgates is debatable. What is not contested is that courts in Michigan are increasingly being asked to bend the law when assigning rights to animals in divorce.
A look at other states: Pets as property
Michigan courts are not alone in holding firm to the law that treats pets as property, despite requests from the parties for orders that include custody rights and visitation agreements for an animal they view as part of the family.
In Florida, for example, an appeals court rejected a lower court’s visitation order for a dog. The husband there had challenged a trial court’s ruling that (1) awarded the former wife visitation with the parties’ dog, Roddy, and (2) modified the final judgment to increase the former wife’s visitation rights with the dog. The trial court’s modified order stated:
- Dog, Roddy: The former Husband, RONALD GREGORY BENNETT, shall have custody of the parties’ dog “Roddy” and the former Wife, KATHRYN R. BENNETT n/k/a KATHRYN R. ROGERS shall have visitation every other month beginning October 1, 1993. The visitation shall begin on the first day of the month and end on the last day of the month.
Instead of denying the wife visitation, Florida’s District Court of Appeals, First District, ruled that the trial court lacked authority to order visitation at all. The court reversed the order and remanded so that Roddy could be awarded to one or the other of the parties, in accord with the state’s equitable distribution statute. “Under Florida law,” the court held, “animals are considered to be personal property … There is no authority which provides for a trial court to grant custody or visitation pertaining to personal property.”
A Pennsylvania Superior court similarly dismissed a husband’s complaint that asked the court to enforce a settlement agreement that awarded custody of the couple’s dog, Barney, to the wife, but granted the husband visitation rights. Unfortunately for the husband, the agreement found no favor with the court:
In seeking “shared custody” and a “visitation” arrangement, Appellant appears to treat Barney, a dog, as a child. Despite the status owners bestow on their pets, Pennsylvania law considers dogs to be personal property.
The court found that any terms in the agreement that attempted “to award custodial visitation with or shared custody of personal property” were void. The husband’s request was analogous to “a visitation schedule for a table or a lamp.” With the visitation provisions of the agreement voided, Barney was awarded to the wife.
Alabama also rejects the idea that pets should be treated as more than property. To determine which party should be awarded a pet in a property division in a divorce action, the court considers “evidence of ownership.” This evidence could come from documentary title, such as a dog license or registration, or from possession. In a 2014 case, a wife who moved out of the marital home without the dog she had brought with her into the marriage, or a second dog acquired during the marriage, lost the right to both animals. The court gave special consideration to husband’s possession of the pets after the parties separated and noted that ownership of a pet is presumed to be in the person who possesses it.
Iowa similarly takes a traditional approach to pets as chattel in divorce. When a lower court considered an animal’s interests in awarding custody, the appeals court upheld the decision, but rejected the reasoning. The district court in that case based its decision to award the dog to the wife on the fact she was more available to care for it. The husband appealed, arguing that it would be equitable for the court to award him the dog as the wife owned another dog. He argued that the couple’s eldest son, who lived with him, was very attached to the dog. Affirming the award to the wife, the appeals court relied on objective evidence to determine ownership, noting that the dog’s license and tracker registration were both in the name of the wife, and that the wife took the dog, Max, for medical attention when needed. “While a family pet should not be put in a position of being neglected or abused, courts do not have to determine a pet’s best interests when making a properly division,” the court stated.
In another Iowa case, the court held to the rule that possession of the pet should be given great weight when determining ownership. There, the court awarded the family dog, who had been given to the divorcing wife as a Christmas gift, to the husband, a veterinarian, who had possession of the pet. “A dog is personal property,” the court stated. “[W]hile courts should not put a family pet in a position of being abused or uncared-for, we do not have to determine the best interests of a pet.”
A Montana court reached the same conclusion in a 2008 case, where it declined to use the “best interest of the child” standard for the distribution of pets, concluding that they are marital property.
Other states: Pets as property — plus
On the other hand, several states have found companion animals to be more than mere chattel. Some judges have begun to create new standards for division of pets and pet custody in divorce that differ from a typical property division analysis.
The New Jersey Superior Court discussed the “special subjective value” of pet dogs in Houseman v Dare, a 2009 case. There, an engaged, live-in couple purchased a dog together and registered both of their names as owners of the dog. After a trial, the lower court found that the dog had been promised to the female plaintiff, Houseman, a promise the defendant had violated by refusing to return the dog after a visit. The court ordered the defendant to pay $1,500 to the plaintiff – the purchase price of the dog — but allowed him to keep the dog. The appellate court reversed:
[T]he special subjective value of the dog to Houseman can be inferred from her testimony about its importance to her and her prompt effort to enforce her right of possession when [Defendant] Dare took action adverse to her enjoyment of that right. Her stipulation to the dog’s intrinsic monetary value cannot be viewed as a concession that the stipulated value was adequate to compensate her for loss of the special value given her efforts to pursue her claim for specific performance at trial…assuming an oral agreement that [Defendant] breached by keeping the dog after a visit, an order awarding him possession because he had the dog at the time of trial would reward him for his breach.” (Emphasis added).
In Arrington v Arrington, supra, the Texas appellate court honored the idea of dogs as property in its text but recognized in its order that they are often much more than that. In that case, the parties had agreed to visitation with their pet dog; the lower court had even named the wife “managing conservator” of the dog, a title generally bestowed on a parent in custody cases. When the husband appealed, the appellate court affirmed that dogs are personal property, and the office of managing conservator had been created for human children. Based on testimony that the dog, Bonnie Lou, had been a gift to the wife, she was awarded custody. The court, however, did not disturb the couple’s custody and visitation agreement. “We are sure there is enough love in that little canine heart to ‘go around,’” the court stated. “Love is not a commodity that can be bought and sold or decreed. It should be shared and not argued about.” Id, 613 SW 2d at 569.
‘Best for all concerned’ and ‘best interest’ standards
Some courts have embraced some of the language of child custody decisions, considering, in one form or another, the “best interests” of the pet and the parties when awarding ownership.
In a New York case, the court acknowledged that the traditional approach would be to consider which party “has the superior possessory right to the dog,” but noted that over the years, courts had recognized that, “unlike other types of property, companion animals are treated as a special category of property, which is consistent with underlying public policy to protect the welfare of animals.” The court considered an extensive list of factors including not only possession and which party was named on the dog’s license or receipt for its purchase, but also “why each party would benefit from having the dog in his or her life,” “why the dog has a better chance of prospering, loving and being loved,” and “who is in the best position to meet the dog’s daily physical and emotional needs.” Based on the “totality of evidence,” the court awarded the dog, Django, to the Defendant:
[I]t is best for all concerned for Defendant to retain sole possession of Django. Django has lived at the same location with Defendant without incident for 4½ years, except during the year when the parties alternated caring for him. Django has thrived and prospered without Plaintiff in his life for almost two years. To suddenly uproot Django and send him across the country to live with Plaintiff would disrupt the dog’s daily routine, healthy and energetic lifestyle and loving and happy home. The current environment appears to enhance the chances of both Django and Defendant living a long and prosperous life together.
This “best for all concerned” standard had appeared three years earlier in a seminal case from the New York Superior Court, in which the court rejected adopting wholesale application of the child custody “best interest” standard to questions involving pets, stating to do so would be “unworkable and unwarranted.” However, the court found it appropriate, when deciding ownership of a “treasured pet,” to give the parties a full hearing, not to exceed one day, to argue the issue under a “best for all concerned” standard.
Consideration of the pet’s interests was sufficient to overcome proof of ownership in a Connecticut case, where the dog was indisputably a gift from the wife to the husband, and was registered to the husband. Awarding the dog to the wife, the court considered testimony that the dog, a Rottweiler who had trouble dealing with children, would – if awarded to the husband — live in a place “where scrap metal abounds, there is a 5-year-old child and strangers come regularly to those premises.” Worse, there was testimony that the husband had threatened to shoot the dog.
A Vermont court similarly stepped outside the typical guidelines for deciding property division of a dog by considering “the welfare of the animal and the emotional connection between the animal and each spouse.” Although 15 V.S.A. Sec. 751(b), the Vermont statute which lists the factors a court may consider in making a property settlement in a divorce action, does not include “the welfare of the animal and the emotional connection between the animal and each spouse,” the Supreme Court of Vermont permitted this factor to be considered in awarding ownership of the pet. The court found authority for the decision in the statute’s instruction that courts consider “all relevant factors” when making an equitable division of marital property.
Despite this determination, the Vermont court ruled that the trial court could not enforce a visitation or shared custody order for pets, even if entered into voluntarily. The court stated that although it was “not uncommon for divorcing couples to share time with their pets voluntarily,” it could not agree with the wife’s argument that the court had authority to impose an enforceable visitation order for the dog.
An order of property division is final and not subject to modification. In contrast to enforcement of other kinds of property division orders, enforcement of an order requiring ongoing sharing of a family companion animal would require the power of modification, since the animal’s well-being in the context of changing circumstances could be a substantial factor in the analysis. Unlike child custody matters, there is no legislative authority for the court to play a continuing role in the supervision of the parties with respect to the care and sharing of a companion animal. Divorce has few concrete advantages for the parties, but one of the greatest is that they are no longer compelled to be in contact over the care and use of their property or the way they spend their time. Accordingly, we agree with the court below that even if submitted by stipulation, an agreement to share custody of the family dog or other pet would be unenforceable in the family division.
Even when courts grant a pet visitation/custody clause arrangement, judicial follow-through on such orders may be problematic. Attorneys might win the trial court’s approval of a custody agreement only to have the same judge who signed the judgment or order refuse to enforce this provision as a violation of judicial economy or improper use of court resources, which should be reserved for human visitation, custody, or parenting time.
A Delaware court, for example, refused to sign a stipulated order for the divorcing couple to have visitation with the dog. Although the court had sympathy for the divorcing couple, the court declined to “get into the flora and fauna of the visitation business.” It had jurisdiction to award the dog, in its entirety, to one party or the other. “[T]hese parties should be mature enough to realize that Zach means a great deal to each of them and that even though their marriage may not have succeeded, at one point or other they did presumably respect and care about each other. I would hope that they could resolve this issue peacefully and with regard for each other’s positions, but if they cannot, the Court is powerless to come to their aid.”
Faced with a public that increasingly treats pets – especially dogs – as “furry babies,” some states have revised laws on the division of marital property.
Alaska became the first state in the union to allow a “wellbeing of the animal” review. HB 147, signed into law in October 2016 and effective in January 2017, provides, in pertinent part:
(I)n a judgment in an action for divorce or action declaring a marriage void or at any time after judgment, the court may provide…(5) if an animal is owned, for the ownership or joint ownership of the animal, considering the well-being of the animal.
Just over a year after passage of Alaska’s law, an amendment to Illinois’ Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act went into effect, requiring a court to consider an animal’s wellbeing when deciding a petition for sole or joint possession of a pet or when considering the terms of a settlement agreement. Another 2018 amendment to the law allows the parties to enter into an agreement “allocating ownership of and responsibility for any companion animals” and, if a “simplified dissolution” (amicable divorce) is sought, requires such an agreement.
In October, New York joined the club, revising its law on the division of marital assets in divorce to allow consideration of a pet’s best interest. The amendment to section 236 of the state’s domestic relations law states :
(15) in awarding the possession of a companion animal, the court shall consider the best interest of such animal. “Companion animal”, as used in this subparagraph, shall have the same meaning as in subdivision five of section three hundred fifty of the agriculture and markets law [which defines a companion animal as a pet] and (16) any other factor which the court shall expressly find to be just and proper.
Commenting on the new law, Judge Matthew Cooper, whose 2013 opinion in Travis v Murray served as a blueprint for the amendment, stated his hope that it “doesn’t open Pandora’s box of drawn-out hearings, proceeding, and testimony about cockapoodles.” Cooper, who owns a Pit Bull mix, noted, “People may stop loving their spouse at some point, but they never stop loving their dogs.”
Factors to consider when dealing with disputes over pets in a Michigan divorce
As any family lawyer knows, many clients will fight almost as hard for the dog they “never stop loving” as they will for a child. In a “pets-as-property state,” like Michigan, ensuring an equitable distribution of marital assets, including the family pet, may depend on knowing where your judge falls on the animal rights spectrum and on a well-crafted prenuptial agreement.
If clients present with potential pet issues when preparing a prenuptial agreement, or if clients are thoughtful enough to address these issues early on in their relationship, a possible strategy is a pet custody agreement such as the example attached as Attachment 1. For enforcement purposes it is vital that an appropriate Arbitrator is chosen who is willing to enforce the terms of a pet custody/visitation agreement.
If you are preparing to argue pet ownership/custody in a family law matter, a good strategy is to establish and show evidence of indicia of ownership. If the Judge assigned to your case refuses to treat pets any different than other chattel, the parties should consider binding arbitration with an arbitrator willing to deal with, and who is familiar with these issues. The arbitrator should also continue his jurisdiction post-judgment to enforce visitation/custody of pets. Again, knowing the policies of your chosen arbitrator is vital.
Despite this trend in state courts and legislatures to treat pets in a divorce increasingly like children, with awards of custody and visitation and regard for the animal’s wellbeing, courts’ willingness to consider a pet’s interests is still constrained. Whether a dog or other pet is viewed as property or as a sentient being whose wellbeing should be considered, courts have indicated they will not allocate extensive time and resources to litigating who gets the dog. Dogs may be sentient beings, worthy of being treated differently from marital assets like furnishings, houses and cars, but they still aren’t sentient enough. Without a change in the laws regarding the disposition of marital assets in divorce, even the most beloved family pet is still, in Michigan as in most states, the equivalent of a big screen TV.
Questions for the judge
Some of the following questions may be helpful in gauging your judge’s attitude toward pets as assets:
- Should “living property” be treated differently than other marital property in divorce (i.e. is a couch different than a pet dog)?
- Should companion animals be treated differently than other pets in divorce for purposes of property division, and if so, how?
- Will you enter a Consent Judgment of Divorce that contains a provision for:
- Pet custody;
- Pet visitation;
- Splitting of veterinary and other expenses related to the pet;
- Will you enforce agreements regarding:
- Pet custody;
- Pet visitation;
- Splitting of veterinary and other expenses related to the pet;
- Will you conduct an evidentiary hearing/motion regarding:
- Pet custody;
- Pet visitation;
- Splitting of veterinary and other expenses related to the pet;
- If you are willing to conduct a hearing/motion regarding pet related issues in divorce, would youconsider any of the following issues, and if so, which issues and in what order of priority:
- ____ Attachment of the pet to a party
- ____Fitness of the parties to care for the pet
- ____ Primary caretaker for the pet
- ____ Multiple pets and separation of pets
- ____ How pet ownership, pet custody, and pet visitation effect the best interests of a minor child in the divorcing family
- On a scale of 1-5, 5 being very satisfied, and 1 being very dissatisfied, how would you rank the current state of the law regarding pet ownership in divorce actions in the State of Michigan?
- Do you have any comments or suggestions regarding law, protocol and/or procedures for division/access/expenses for pets in divorce proceedings in Michigan?
- In considering which party should be awarded ownership of a pet in divorce, rate the following factors/considerations in order of importance from most important to least important:
- ___ Who bought the pet?
- ___ Who took the pet to the veterinarian?
- ___ Who paid the veterinarian and insurance bills for the pet?
- ___ Which person purchased pet supplies such as toys, food, litter, etc.?
- ___ Who fed the pet on a daily basis?
- ___ Who had the main responsibility for brushing, washing, and trimming the pet?
- ___ Whether either party paid for any special training?
- ___ Who walked the pet and cleaned up after it?
- ___ Who bonded with the pet the most?
- ___ Who has the financial means to take care of the pet over its lifetime?
- ___ Whether either party neglected the pet or abused it in any other way?
- ___ If either party works, whether his or her work schedule is flexible enough to allow him or her to take care of the pet or whether he or she is able to find a person who will do so?
- ___ Whether the pet, as applicable, will live where there is enough room to exercise and play?
- ___ Consideration of written agreements between the parties regarding pets (i.e. prenuptial agreements).
- Are there any other factors/considerations you evaluate in determining pet ownership in an action for divorce? If so, please indicate other factors/considerations you would consider.
- Do you live with any animal companions?
- Do you believe that animals feel sadness, pain, joy, and love?
This article primarily focuses on ordinary family pets as distinguished at law from service animals and/or companion pets.
- MCL 750.50; 750.50b
- Augillard v Madura, 257 SW3d 494, 503 n.15 (Tex.App 2008)
- Arrington v. Arrington, 613 SW2d 565, 569 (Tex. Civ. App. 1981)
- MCL 552.401.
- Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Michigan Family Law, Seventh Edition, Sec. 15.1, p 15-3.
- . Tax Considerations When Dividing Property in Divorce, Marital Estate Division Offers Challenges and Opportunities for Advisers, by Ray A. Knight, CPA, J.D. and Lee G. Knight, PH.D., April 1, 2013, Journal of Accountancy.
- . Reed v. Reed, 265 Mich App 131, 693 NW2d 825 (2005); Reeves v. Reeves, 226 Mich App 490, 493-494, 575 NW2d 1 (1997).
- . MCL 552.401.
- . Another exception to the general rule occurs when the marital estate would be insufficient, without a division of the separate property, for the “suitable support” of the non-owning spouse. MCL 552.23.
- . Leverich v. Leverich, 340 Mich 133, 137, 64 NW2d 567 (1954).
- . Reeves v. Reeves, 226 Mich App 490, 493, 575 NW2d 1 (1997).
- . 27B C.J.S. Divorce Sec. 855 (2009).
- . Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Michigan Family Law, Seventh Edition, Sec. 15.1, p 15-3.
- . 2007 HB 5598; http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2007-2008/billintroduced/House/pdf/2007-HIB-5598.pdf
- . Augillard v. Madura, 257 S.W.3d 494, 503 n. 15 (Tex. Ct. App. 2008) (quoting Kathy Hessler, Mediating Animal Law Matters, 2 J. Animal L. & Ethics 21, 28 (2007)).
- . Bennett v. Bennett, 655 So.2d 109 (Fla.App. 1 Dist., 1995).
- . County of Pasco v. Riehl, 620 So.2d 229 (Fla. 2d DCA 1993), and Levine v. Knowles, 197 So.2d 329 (Fla. 3d DCA 1967).
- . Desanctis v. Pritchard, 803 A.2d 230 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2002).
- . 3 P.S. § 459-601(a); see also Price v. Brown, 545 Pa. 216, 680 A.2d 1149, 1153 n. 3 (1996).
- . Hogan v. Hogan, 199 So. 3d 50 (Ala. Civ. App. 2015).
- . Id.
- . In re Marriage of Berger and Ognibene-Berger, (Decisions Without Published Opinions) 834 N.W.2d 82 (2013). Slip opinion, pages 13-14. Slip opinion available at https://law.justia.com/cases/iowa/court-of-appeals/2013/3-148-12-1389.html
- . In re Marriage of Stewart, 356 N.W.2d 611 (Iowa Ct. App. 1984).
- . In re Marriage of Piskalns, Unpublished Disposition, 344 Mont. 555, 186 P.3d 877 (Table) (2008), available at https://www.animallaw.info/case/re-marriage-piskalns
- . Houseman v. Dare, 966 A.2d 24 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2009); 405 N.J. Super. 538 (2009).
- . Arrington v Arrington, 613 S.W.2d 565 (Tex. Civ. App. 1981).
- . Mitchell v Snider, 41 N.Y.S.3d 450 (N.Y. Civ. Ct. 2016).
- . Id.
- . Id.
- . Travis v Murray, 977 N.Y.S.2d 621 (Sup. Ct. 2013)
- . Id, at 630.
- . Vargas v. Vargas, 1999 WL 1244248 (Conn. Super. Ct. Dec. 1, 1999) (unpublished opinion) (available at https://www.animallaw.info/case/vargas-v-vargas)
- . Id.
- . Hament v. Baker, 2014 VT 39, 97 A.3d 461 (Vt. 2014).
- . Id, p. 462
- . Viskup v. Viskup, 149 Vt. 89, 90, 539 A.2d 554, 555-56 (1987)
- . Nuzzaci v. Nuzzaci, 1995 WL 783006 (Del. Fam. Ct. Apr. 19, 1995) (Unpublished opinion). Available at https://www.animallaw.info/case/nuzzaci-v-nuzzac
- . Id.
- . Shelly Volsche, “Dog and Cat ‘Moms’ and ‘Dads’ Really Are Parenting Their Pets,” Scientific American, November 2021. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/dog-and-cat-moms-and-dads-really-are-parenting-their-pets/
- . AS Section 25.24.160.
- . Supra.
- . 750 I.L.C.S. 5/501(f); 5/503(n)
- . 750 ILCS 5/502(a)
- . 750 ILCS 5/452(k)
- . New York, Senate Bill 4248, available at https://legislation.nysenate.gov/pdf/bills/2021/s4248
- . Supra at note 31.
- . Susan Lehman, “A Voice for the Yorkies and Doodles when Mom and Dad Split Up,” The New Yorker, Nov. 22, 2021. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/11/22/a-voice-for-the-yorkies-and-doodles-when-mom-and-dad-split-up