Considering the "Best Interest of the Pet" in a Divorce
Just as a judge would consider the "best interest of the child" in deciding a custody dispute, if Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs the proposed change to New York's divorce law, judges will also apply that standard to the family pet and no longer treat pets just as property.
Before passage of the bill, pets are treated as property under the law. Custody might be awarded based on who bought the pet, spent more money on the pet, or paid for food and vet visits. If the bill is signed (and it probably will be, as it overwhelmingly passed both houses of the NY legislature in May), the court would consider what is best for the pet. Maybe one partner has more time to spend with the pet, or has a better connection with the pet.
All Pets Included
The proposed legislation includes not only dogs and cats, but "any other domesticated animal normally maintained in or near the household". Farm animals and livestock are specifically excluded.