If you consider your dog to be an integral part of your family, you are in good company. According to a recent study, 98% of dog owners treat their pets more like children than animals. In the eyes of the law, though, your dog is a piece of property.
For divorce purposes, Wisconsin is a community property jurisdiction. This means you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have an equal interest in all marital assets. Consequently, when your marriage comes to an end, you should receive roughly half of the marital estate.
Is your dog separate or marital property?
While the law entitles you to half of the marital estate, you probably do not have to divide separate property. That is, you can likely keep everything you exclusively own. If you acquired your dog before you walked down the aisle, the animal may be separate property.
Can you reach an acceptable agreement?
While judges have authority to divide marital assets during divorce proceedings, they regularly defer to agreements divorcing couples make. If you and your husband or wife can negotiate ownership of your pet, a judge is likely to respect your bargain.
Do you have an argument for exclusive ownership?
If you cannot agree about what happens to your dog, a judge has wide latitude to determine the animal’s fate. The following factors may make a difference:
- Whether you purchased the dog
- Whether you feed, walk or otherwise care for the dog
- Whether you have some emotional need to own the dog
If your divorce is already stressful, losing your dog may be too much to bear. Fortunately, if you can form a cogent argument for exclusive ownership, you may be able to convince a judge to give the dog to you.