Pets as “property” in a Wisconsin divorce?

Pets as “property” in a Wisconsin divorce?

Pets are treated as property in Wisconsin divorce cases.  However, research continues to demonstrate that at least some animals have more complex emotions and intelligence.  A recent study found that dogs may have emotions similar to humans http://news.yahoo.com/scans-reveal-striking-similarity-between-human-canine-minds-162147298.html.   As a dog owner myself, this is not really surprising.  However, those feelings are increasingly supported by scientific evidence.

Now, pets are considered property to be divided between spouses in a Wisconsin divorce case, no different than a couch or table.   This treatment may be hard to understand because you, like most pet owners, view your pet as a member of the family.  As the article mentions in passing, these studies will affect the treatment of family pets when families break up, through divorce or otherwise.

Efforts to draft a law providing for “custody “of pets, much like children, have so far been unsuccessful.  I’ve drafted a few agreements allowing custody schedules for pets after the owners’ breakup.  I foresee those agreements becoming more common as a result of studies like this one.

Published by David Kowalski

Attorney David Kowalski is the founding owner of Kowalski, Wilson & Vang, LLC, handling all family law cases from divorce, paternity, child custody, termination of parental rights, restraining orders, and guardianships.

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