EP: 054


Evolving Laws Around Companion Animals and Divorce with David Favre

Pets are family. As a growing number of people form emotional attachments with their animals, the divorce process is further complicated by decisions around who gets to keep the pets. What can people do to look out for the best interests of the animal involved? What does the law say?

Professor David Favre practiced law in Virginia prior to joining the Michigan State University Law College faculty in 1976. An expert in animal law, David has written several articles and books dealing with issues like animal cruelty, wildlife law, the use of animals in scientific research and international control of animal trade. He is a national officer of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the ABA Committee on Animal Law, and David teaches Property, International Environmental Law, Wildlife Law and Animal Law at MSU.

Today, David joins Katherine to explain the many facets of animal law and how it has evolved in the US over the last 150 years. He shares his take on animals as ‘living property’ and walks us through the legal process of creating a trust to provide for our pets. David speaks to decision-making about pets in the divorce process, offering insight around the emotionally changed nature of those discussions and why joint agreements are preferable to litigation. Listen in to understand the evolution of the law when it comes to animals and divorce—and learn how Alaska is at the forefront of legislation based on the best interests of the animal.


The many aspects of animal law

How animal law in the US has changed in the last 150 years

The popularity and acceptance of companion animals

The creation of trusts for animals in the 1990’s

David’s take on the idea of animals as ‘living property’

  • Human has legal control
  • Animal has status above property

How animals become a proxy for negative circumstances between people

Making decisions about where the pet is placed after divorce

  • Emotional attachment, comfort and support
  • Financial well-being, best quality of life

Why David recommends joint agreements over litigation

The emotional nature of mediations involving pets

The evolution of laws around pets and divorce

  • Alaska first to give judge authority
  • Placement based on best interest of animal

David’s advice around providing for your animal through a trust


David’s Faculty Profile


Books by David Favre


The Center for Understanding Conflict
Miller Law Group
Katherine on LinkedIn