Does Vermont Have Pet Custody Laws?

Mike: All right. It’s time for “The Legal Minute” now with Martin, Harding & Mazzotti at 1-800-LAW-1010. Got Paul here this week. Paul, good morning.

Paul: Hey. Good morning, Mike. Good morning, Mary.

Mary: Good morning, Paul. So we were just reading that one of the states was changing a law.

Mike: Illinois.

Mary: Was it Illinois? Thank you for reminding. That in a divorce pets are gonna go through a custody battle as well.

Mike: Like kids, they’re gonna treat them like kids now.

Paul: Well, we do anyway. Don’t we? At least at my house.

Mike: Right.

Mary: In a way, we do.

Mike: So let’s do it in court.

Paul: Sometimes we even like them better. So here’s a situation. In Vermont, the way that we treat animals…legally as property, so similar to a couch, or if you’re dividing up the car. You know, you go through a divorce. Where does the property go? And that really is the wisdom in terms of how they’ve decided with pets. But we all know that really pets mean a whole lot more than your car. And so Illinois and Alaska believe it or not, has a similar statute in the books that says, “No, there could be joint custody. There could be joint ownership. And we’re gonna kinda treat this as if it is, as you say, a child, because it is a member of the family.”

Mike: Yeah.

Mary: Does it matter what kind of pet, cat, fish, dog, turtle?

Mike: Good question.

Paul: Boy, you know, I tried to research to talk about this spot, and I did not go down that road.

Mike: Turtles.

Paul: I’m gonna assume that there’s a great argument. Turtle, I guess…

Mike: Right?

Paul: …that, yeah, pets are pets. You always take the classic cat and dog, but you could go far beyond that. It could be a horse.

Mary: Yeah, birds.

Paul: It could be something, maybe a tarantula. Who knows?

Mary: Okay, you can keep that one.

Paul: Yeah, but what was interesting in this statute in Illinois is service dogs. And service dogs are still deemed property because of the person who needs that service. You know, if you’ve been on an airplane lately, you know, that whole world has changed.

Mike: That makes sense.

Paul: You know, you would, maybe, see one dog on a plane. Now we see dogs everywhere. So, sure, that’s otherwise but we’ll see. I think Vermonters will take a look at this and try to figure out if this is a statute that they wanna have their legislators look at.

Mary: I could see that happening in Vermont. We love…I mean, not that everybody else doesn’t, but we really love our pets.

Mike: We love our pets. We do, and our animals.

Paul: Yes, we do.

Mike: We do.

Mary: That’s great information.

Mike: Interesting. Hey, thank you, Paul.

Mary: Thanks, Paul.

Paul: All right, guys, Happy New Year.

Together: Happy New Year.

Mike: It’s Martin, Harding & Mazzotti at 1-800-LAW-1010 or

*Find out New York’s Pet Custody Laws, here.