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6/13/2024 General Assembly passes Rep. Lima’s bill that creates custody procedures for pets in divorce cases
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Charlene M. Lima that would create custody procedures for pets during divorce or separation proceedings.  Representative Lima said that in a divorce proceeding, pets are often viewed as property and used as leverage over the other party without regard to the pet’s well-being. 
“Pet custody legislation is being passed in many states at an escalating rate as pets are viewed as part of the family and we must protect them from being used merely as property.  Parties have spent thousands of dollars in contesting pet custody rulings mainly because there are no laws setting forth criteria to be used in awarding custody.  My legislation changes that in Rhode Island.  This bill is long overdue and I am happy that Rhode Island, once again, is at the forefront of animal welfare legislation,” said Representative Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence).
The legislation (2024-H 7970) directs the courts to consider several factors in determining custody of the animal, such as which party owned the animal first or whether the animal was acquired following marriage; which party assumed most of the responsibility for tending to the animal’s needs; which party spent more time with the animal; which living arrangement is best for the animal; and whether children were involved in caring for the animal.
Representative Lima has also spoken with Family Court Chief Judge Michael Forte and he has indicated his support for the bill.
The legislation also lays out factors to consider if joint custody of the animal between the separating parties is possible.
The bill now heads to the governor for consideration.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903