To the delight of pet lovers across the state, last year the Illinois legislature passed a new pet custody in a divorce law that allows judges to consider the well-being of a pet when allocating sole or joint ownership in an Illinois divorce. Much like child custody, the new pet custody law allows a judge to take the best interest of the pet into consideration instead of just treating pets as marital property to be divided.
Although many in Wisconsin also have strong emotional ties to their pets, often considering them a member of the family, Wisconsin courts do not expressly recognize pets as being more than property. Unfortunately, when it comes to divorce, Wisconsin law treats pets just like any other marital property such as furniture or a car, subject to division based on their monetary value.
When trying to determine what is best for the pet and the family in a Wisconsin divorce, reaching a compromise is ideal. Parties will need to decide who will keep the pet after a divorce and whether the other party will be allowed visitation. If you find that and your spouse cannot agree, it may be worthwhile to work with a third party mediator to help you reach an arrangement.
If all efforts fail and you decide to have the issue decided in court, it is important for you and your attorney to present a strong argument as to why a pet should remain under your care. Factors may include who has taken primary responsibility for feeding and caring for the pet during the marriage, whether being awarded the pet serves the children’s best interests in a primary placement household, or if one of the parties owned the pet prior to the marriage. These and other considerations will help strengthen your argument to maintain your relationship with a cat, dog or other family pet.
Concerned about Pet Custody in a Divorce?
Contact Experienced Wisconsin Marital Property Division Lawyers For Help
Until Wisconsin law catches up to take a more compassionate view of what is in the best interests of the family pet in a divorce, it remains a contentious issue. If you have concerns regarding marital property division with regard to a beloved pet, contact the family law attorneys at Probst Law Offices for immediate help.