NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A5775
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the domestic relations law, in relation to requiring the
court to consider the best interest of a companion animal when awarding
possession in a divorce or separation proceeding
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that the best interests of
pets are taken into consideration during divorce or separation
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1. Subparagraphs 14 and 15 of paragraph d of subdivision 5 of
part B of section 236 of the domestic relations law are amended to
require that courts consider the best interest of companion animals when
awarding possession of such animal during divorce or separation
Section 2. Establishes the effective date.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 36.5%
of American households owned a dog and 30.4% owned a cat in 2012. As
many of these households know, companion animals usually become members
of the family. Although the nationwide divorce rate is at its lowest in
40 years, divorces still occur and can become contentious. Custody
decisions involving pets in divorce proceedings are not uncommon.
Courts typically deal with pets in divorce proceedings as they do with
personal property such as cars and furniture. For many families, pets
are the equivalent of children and must be granted more consideration by
courts to ensure that they will be properly cared for after a divorce.
In January of 2017, Alaska became the first state in the country to
require courts to consider the welfare of household pets when determin-
ing custody of such pets in divorce proceedings. It is now time for New
York to pass similar legislation.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2019-20: A.1097 Referred to Judiciary
2017-18: A8663 Referred to Judiciary
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2021-2022 Regular Sessions
February 24, 2021
Introduced by M. of A. GLICK, L. ROSENTHAL, LUPARDO, COOK, VANEL, JEAN-
PIERRE, ZEBROWSKI, ABBATE, SEAWRIGHT, J. RIVERA -- read once and
referred to the Committee on Judiciary
AN ACT to amend the domestic relations law, in relation to requiring the
court to consider the best interest of a companion animal when award-
ing possession in a divorce or separation proceeding
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. Subparagraphs 14 and 15 of paragraph d of subdivision 5 of
2 part B of section 236 of the domestic relations law, as amended by
3 section 1 of part PP of chapter 55 of the laws of 2020, are amended to
4 read as follows:
5 (14) whether either party has committed an act or acts of domestic
6 violence, as described in subdivision one of section four hundred
7 fifty-nine-a of the social services law, against the other party and the
8 nature, extent, duration and impact of such act or acts; [and]
9 (15) in awarding the possession of a companion animal, the court shall
10 consider the best interest of such animal. "Companion animal", as used
11 in this subparagraph, shall have the same meaning as in subdivision five
12 of section three hundred fifty of the agriculture and markets law; and
13 (16) any other factor which the court shall expressly find to be just
14 and proper.
15 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.