Kulik introduces bill that would aid judges in deciding pet custody during divorce proceedings

HARRISBURG, May 9 – As a former attorney, state Rep. Anita Kulik, D-Allegheny, saw firsthand the stress divorce proceedings can inflict on a couple, especially when a family pet is involved.

On Wednesday, Kulik introduced H.B. 1432, which would establish the following factors for judges to consider when deciding the proper guardianship of a pet:

  • Whether the animal was acquired prior to or during the marriage.
  • The basic, daily needs of the animal.
  • Who generally facilities veterinary care and social interaction for the animal.
  • Who usually ensures compliance with local and state regulations, such as licensing.
  • Who provides the greater ability to financially support the pet.

“Current state law provides no special provisions for pets,” Kulik said. “Ultimately, the pet is instead reduced to an inanimate object during divorce proceedings. This bill will assist judges in determining what is best for the pet and the family.”

Kulik said under the legislation, parties going through a divorce also would be able to enter into an enforceable agreement outside the divorce decree that provides for the possession or care of a pet.

House Bill 1432 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.