This One's For the Dogs (and Cats and other pets)
House Bill 2855, introduced and sponsored by Delegate Jill Upson (R- Jefferson, 65th District), is one that may have dogs (and cats) wagging their tails. Specifically, HB 2855, seeks to provide certain protections for family pets whose owners are going through a divorce. Currently, as most pets are deemed personal property of their owners, pets of a divorcing couple are subject to equitable principles of division of property at the time of their divorce. In other words, pets are treated the same as a motor vehicle or other personal property items during a divorce.
HB 2855, which seeks to amend Chapter 48 of the West Virginia Code, adds provisions related to temporary custody, visitation and monetary support for the pet during the time of separation. Further, HB 2855 creates a “best interest of the pet” standard when awarding “custody” of the pet. Finally, HB 2855 creates allowances for awarding monetary support after divorce for the pet, as well as visitation rights in the pets.
The bill, introduced on January 10, 2018, is currently pending in the House Judiciary Committee. A copy of the bill, as well as tracking information, may be found at http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Status/Bills_history.cfm?input=2855&year=2018&sessiontype=RS&btype=bill