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What Happens to Your Pets After a Divorce? March 14, 2019

La Crosse, La Crosse County
What Happens to Your Pets After a Divorce?, La Crosse, Wisconsin

For millions of people, pets are an integral part of the family, which can make deciding what happens to them after a divorce difficult. Unfortunately, pets are legally considered personal property, just like a car, sofa, or bank account, and will be divided according to the laws of your state. Understanding what happens to pets when a marriage ends is key to achieving the best outcome for all members of your family.

Understanding the Laws Around Pets & Divorce

Why Negotiate a Settlement

divorceOnly you and your spouse understand the emotional bond you have formed with your pet, so it is best to negotiate a peaceful resolution whenever possible, instead of leaving it to the courts. Not only will a private settlement reduce the emotional pain and expense of divorce, it will also give you and your spouse complete control over the outcome. If you are splitting on amicable terms, you might be able to arrange a custody and visitation schedule.

How Courts Make Decisions

When deciding who should get a pet during a divorce, family courts weigh a variety of factors, including who purchased the pet and when. If your spouse already had the pet before you got married, the courts will consider it their property, regardless of bonds formed with other members of the family. However, if you acquired the animal together, the judge might consider who spends more time and money taking care of the pet, who has a lifestyle more conducive to pet ownership, and where the children are going to live.


Divorce is a difficult emotional experience and a complex legal process, which means you need an attorney who takes a compassionate approach to the law. The legal team at Guillien Van Nuland, LLC are here to answer your questions and look out for your family. With more than 25 years of experience, they represent clients in the La Crosse, WI, area, including Monroe, Vernon, Trempealeau, Crawford, Juneau, and Buffalo counties as well as Houston, Fillmore, and Winona counties in Minnesota. Call (608) 782-4411 or visit them online to make an appointment today.

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