You want to be fair to your spouse, and you know that they’ve bonded with your pets, but you were the one who brought them into your marriage. Your two dogs are elderly and have been with you since they were puppies. For the last 10 years, however, they’ve been a part of your family. Now that you and your spouse are splitting up, she wants to take one of the dogs with her. You don’t want to let that happen. What should you do?
In situations like this, remember that Wisconsin’s laws treat pets as property. Since your pets were yours prior to your marriage, you have a good reason to claim that they should be treated as your separate property. On the other hand, you should also consider the emotional aspects of this decision. Has one of your pets bonded with your spouse? Is your spouse more capable of providing the care that the pet will need following your divorce? Will you live close together and be able to share custody of the pets or make accommodations for seeing them regularly?
People with pets often treat them like children, and they can be an indispensable part of the family. If you want to resolve this dispute outside court, you may want to consider divorce mediation or arbitration. Your spouse may have good points to discuss with you, such as if she has a better home for the pets or is more financially stable and able to provide the veterinary care that they need.
Consider the circumstances carefully before you reject her request, even if the pets are yours. Though they are treated like property, they are not just inanimate assets.