Our pets aren’t just animals to you — they’re family. Unfortunately, however, the law in Wisconsin sees pets as property when a couple decides to divorce. This means that they’re subject to the ordinary rules of property division.
If the idea of trying to divide up the dogs and the cats like you would a set of dishes makes you absolutely heartsick, it may be time to think about a “petnup” as part of your marital plans.
What is a petnup?
The term “petnup” is just a play on the more commonly recognized “prenuptial agreement.” In this case, however, the agreement speaks to what will happen to your dog or cat (or any other pets you may have) if your marriage should end.
Right now, only California, Illinois, and Alaska have statutes that enable family court judges to consider what is really in the best interests of the pets when a couple splits up. But that doesn’t mean couples aren’t free to craft private agreements between themselves.
Hence, the “petnup” was born.
A petnup can eliminate heartache over a pet. It begins by clarifying who would get ownership of the pet if you divorce, what visitation rights (if any) the other party would have and more. Having a petnup in place can also keep your spouse from using ownership of your dog or cat as leverage for something else.
Marriage in the modern era can be quite complicated — and so can divorce. In general, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can save you a lot of distress and expense if your marriage doesn’t work out.