To Decide Who Gets to Keep the Pets in a Divorce, Mediation May be the Best Option
Pets owned by families in America, including dogs, cats, and other domestic pets, have earned a special place. As indicated by the widespread use of words like “fur babies,” animals that were initially considered pets have gradually evolved into full family members.
Unfortunately, like most states, Wisconsin’s laws do not treat animals with the same respect that they give their owners, which can cause issues during a divorce. If the two separating couples are unable to agree on their own, there usually is no legal procedure for deciding who gets to keep the pets. Karp & Iancu, S.C. can help you with your divorce.
How are animals seen in courts?
Animals are treated the same as any other property in all but a few states. However, since a pet cannot be divided, courts must decide disagreements by awarding the animal to the spouse who can more persuasively demonstrate ownership. Pet food and other necessary supply receipts, veterinary records, and adoption paperwork from a shelter are all examples of evidence.
This is far from the ideal way to settle a pet custody issue, which is why several jurisdictions have created laws that give pets more weight when divorcing.
Laws governing pet custody are uncommon at the moment.
Only five states currently require judges to decide who gets custody of a pet based on the animal’s best interests. This probably resembles the “best interests of the child” approach that Wisconsin and most other states utilize when making custody decisions. Three additional states have had individual court decisions that applied this theory but have not enacted statutes that specifically addressed pet custody.
However, judges in Wisconsin and many other states will continue to view pets as property rather than part of the family for now. Pet custody issues must be resolved in different ways by divorcing couples.
Mediation as a means of achieving a resolution
Some divorcing couples have wasted time and money fighting over who gets to keep the family dog or cat since no laws govern pet custody. Creating a personalized agreement through divorce mediation would be a far better solution.
Mediation is frequently quicker, less expensive, and less stressful compared to a contentious divorce. The fact that the parameters of the agreement are decided upon jointly by the parties may be the most significant benefit. A mediator is a disinterested professional whose role is to encourage dialogue and assist couples in reaching an understanding. If they do manage to come to an agreement, it can be formalized in writing and approved by a judge.