NJ Lawmakers May Be Watching as Alaska Passes Divorce Law Regarding Pet Custody
On January 17, 2017, a new divorce law in Alaska went into effect. The legislation, which was passed in 2016 and later signed into law by Alaska Governor Bill Walker, amends the state’s divorce statutes and requires family court judges to consider the welfare of pets when dividing property between divorcing spouses. The new law […]
On January 17, 2017, a new divorce law in Alaska went into effect. The legislation, which was passed in 2016 and later signed into law by Alaska Governor Bill Walker, amends the state’s divorce statutes and requires family court judges to consider the welfare of pets when dividing property between divorcing spouses.
The new law could have significant implications for spouses who go through the divorce process in Alaska. Moreover, it is likely that lawmakers in other states, including New Jersey, will be watching closely to see what effect the Alaska amendment has on divorce cases as judges grapple with the how to interpret and apply the law.
Pets as Property in New Jersey Divorce Cases
In New Jersey, family courts seek to equitably distribute marital property between divorcing spouses. There are a number of factors, such as the duration of the marriage and the income that each spouse brought to the marriage, that judges consider when deciding on the fairest way to value and distribute assets and liabilities. The assets typically include the marital home, bank accounts, cars, and pets, while the liabilities may include home mortgages, credit card debts, and student loan debts.
A New Jersey family court judge will ordinarily set a monetary value on each asset and liability. This holds true for both automobiles and pets, since NJ judges are not required to consider the welfare of pets in a divorce case. For example, if the divorcing couple’s dog is valued at $500, then the spouse who is granted custody of the animal may be required to make a cash payment of $250 to the other spouse.
In Alaska, however, family court judges will no longer be limited to considering the monetary value of a dog or cat in a divorce case. Instead, judges must now also take into consideration “the well-being of the animal” when making decisions about pet custody. Moreover, Alaska judges can now allow joint custody of pets in divorce cases.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Camden County or anywhere else in New Jersey, you should speak with a qualified family law and divorce attorney as soon as possible. The experienced divorce lawyers at Davis & Mendelson can help you throughout the divorce process. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.