When we rang in the New Year, laws throughout the country in different states went into effect. Here in New Jersey, the minimum wage went up and the tax rate decreased slightly… this is a usual occurrence.

Cooper, a dog that belonged to Ann Reeves
Cooper, a dog that belonged to Ann Reeves (Jennifer Doherty)

I woke up this morning and rolled over to check my phone and got a notification from my CNN app saying something to the faction of “who gets the dog during the divorce”. I clicked on it and it brought me to a story about a bunch of different laws that are going into effect throughout the country. What struck me the most is when I scrolled down to “Family & Divorce” and it highlighted a new Illinois law:

“In Illinois, pets will be treated more like kids than property in splits. Pets could be subject to partial or joint custody after their owner's divorce. The law only applies to "companion animals" -- not service animals.”

This struck a chord with me because I have three dogs and I can’t sit here and say that they are “my property”, they’re apart of the family.

According to aretsky-law.com, pets are considered property, like a piece of furniture: “Of course, family court judges in any state can consider an animal’s well-being when deciding which party should get the pet; however, it is left up to the judge’s discretion and is not mandatory.”

The website goes on to say that Alaska was the first state to enact “pet-custody” legislation last year which required courts to take the well being of the animal into account and allowed joint custody of the animal.

Do you think that New Jersey should follow the footsteps of Illinois or Alaska? Do you consider your pet a member of the family?

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