By Carlos Gamino. Click here for audio version.

If you’re like many pet parents getting a divorce in Wisconsin, one of your primary concerns is what will happen to your four-, two- or no-legged family members. Pet custody is a real thing, and it’s been gaining steam across the U.S. – but what about Wisconsin? This guide explains pet custody and who gets the pets in a Wisconsin divorce.

Who Gets the Pets in a Wisconsin Divorce Case?

In the state of Wisconsin, pets are considered personal property. That means one of you – you or your soon-to-be ex-spouse – will typically be awarded the pets. However, judges are permitted to honor agreements that you and your ex make about pet visitation and custody.

Related: What to know before you get a divorce

If you and your ex can’t agree on what should happen with your pets, it makes sense to go to mediation to find common ground. There, you can reach an agreement that details the terms of your pet custody arrangement; you can even agree on who’s financially responsible for the pet, and which of you has the right to make major decisions regarding your pet’s health and well-being (including euthanasia when the time comes).

When you and your spouse reach an agreement about your pets, the court will likely incorporate it into your final judgment. That means the terms you agreed to become legally binding (and enforceable).

If you cannot agree, you may ask the judge to listen to evidence from both sides – including testimony on your bond with your pet, how much you’ve contributed to its care and upbringing, and who should be responsible for financial obligations related to the pet.

However, this all depends on the judge. Some judges only see pets as personal property and nothing more. If that happens in your case, provided that you and your spouse haven’t reached an agreement, the judge will determine where the pet goes.

Related: Divorce survival tips

Pro Tip: If you have children, you can treat the pet as the children’s property and determine that the family pet should go where the children go. The pet will visit with each parent at the same time as the kids do.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Pet Custody?

If you’re a divorcing pet parent, we may be able to help you. Although there’s no way to predict how a judge will rule, we can help you and your pet get the best possible outcome. Contact us at 414-383-6700 to schedule your free consultation with a Wisconsin divorce lawyer now.

Attorney Carlos Gamino