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After Passage Of Bill, It May Be Hard To Take New York State Lawmakers Seriously

There are times it’s hard to take the New York state Legislature seriously.

The passage of legislation that will require Family Courts to consider the best interest of companion animals in divorce or separation proceedings is one such occasion.

In some parts of the state, according to a recent City & State New York article, it can take three years for Family Court cases to be finalized. At a time when many are asking for more judges, special referees, discovery masters and judicial hearing officers to move cases through the system faster so that the needs of children are met, New York’s state Legislature is placing a frivolous matter on the plate of an already overworked judiciary without giving the court system additional money to handle the increased work.

In our opinion, there was no reason to change the status quo. Family Court judges currently work with pet owners during divorces and separations with the judge making the final decision if the sides can’t find compromise.

“So now we throw a great bone to my lawyer friends so that they can litigate over the best interest of the pet,” Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, said before rhetorically laying out some of the court arguments Family Court judges could hear. “Who’s got a bigger yard? But, he comes to me when I call him. Yes, but he sleeps with you. Yes, but I feed him. Yes, but I take him to the vet. We’re going to do personality profiles, psychological personality profiles, which parent is better at pet management. We’re going to do a pet personality evaluation. Call in psychologists to talk to the pet. Cat whisperers. Open a subsequent review. And all it guarantees, by the way, is a large legal fee.”

Ironically, an internet search for pet divorce brings up a smattering of news stories from Alaska and California – states that have passed similar bills — and dozens of law firms looking for clients.

In January 2017, Alaska became the first state in the country to require courts to consider the welfare of household pets when determining custody of such pets in divorce proceedings. California and a handful of other states have since followed. We’re shocked New York wasn’t the first to approve this cockamamie idea. Apparently the Empire State’s legislature isn’t the only legislature that shouldn’t be taken seriously.

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