Source: JDSUPRA 

Pennsylvania law currently treats pets as inanimate property during divorce proceedings, similar to furniture. House Bill No. 1108, introduced on May 5, 2023, aims to change this by defining pets as “companion animals,” a special category of personal property. The bill allows courts to decide pet custody based on several factors, including when the pet was acquired, daily care needs, Veterinary care, compliance with regulations, and financial support.

For service animals, the default custody goes to the party who relies on the animal, though this can be contested. The bill also permits couples to create enforceable agreements regarding pet care and possession outside of divorce decrees. Although not yet law, the bill passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on June 26, 2023, and is now with the Senate. Those undergoing divorce should prepare for potential pet custody disputes.

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