Who Gets the Family Pet After Divorce?
Anyone with a pet knows that animals have a way of quickly becoming a beloved member of the family. Whether they greet you with a wagging tail at the end of a long day or provide company during a difficult time, most pet owners have very strong attachments to their pets. So what happens to the family pet after divorce? Are there laws regarding the custody of a family pet, as there are for custody of children? Let’s take a look.
Animals are companions but are considered “property”
Wisconsin law, as in most states, categorizes domestic animals as personal property. Although pets may be beloved companions, and contribute greatly to the pet-owner relationship, as far as the law is concerned, they are considered personal property.
Wisconsin’s community property laws
In dividing assets after a divorce, all property is considered “marital property” and must be shared. Determining how marital property is divided is complex in most states, as the majority follow the process of equitable distribution, which considers how long the couple was married, the income of each spouse, and other factors in making the determination. The marital property laws in Wisconsin are different. Wisconsin is a community property state, meaning that all marital property is presumed to be divided equally between the couple.
How is custody of the family pet determined?
There are laws regarding the custody and placement of children after a divorce. Wisconsin law, as is the case in other states, puts the best interests of the child or children first when making custody and placement determinations. However, because family pets are considered personal property under the law, there are no legal statutes governing who assumes custody.
My ex and I both want the family pet. What do we do?
Most aspects of divorce are emotional and battles for custody of the family pet are no exception. If you and your spouse are divorcing, it is best to consider the future care and custody of your pet as part of your divorce proceedings. A decision can be reached through the use of a mediator or in the courts.
We know that pets are part of the family
Divorce and child custody are difficult, emotional life changes that affect everyone involved. Oftentimes, the issue of what happens to the family pet is overlooked. Make sure that doesn’t happen. The Wisconsin divorce lawyers at Bandle and Zaeske work with families to reach the best possible outcome in divorce, working through child custody arrangements, determining child support, planning visitation schedules, and deciding the future of the family pet. Contact our office today at 414-359-1424 or online to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation. We are here to help you through the process.