According to a recent news article, Wisconsin legislators introduced a bill setting guidelines for the way divorce courts would deal with divorcing couples facing pet custody battles. Whether it helps or creates even more heartbreak is hard to judge.
The bill would allow for such issues as custody, visitation rights and moves out of state. If neither spouse wants to come to an agreement that the other can accept, a judge can step in and choose which spouse gets the pet or pets.
The judge could also decide that neither spouse should be the owner and, in that case, the pet would be sent to a shelter. The shelter experience could be the beginning of the end depending upon the shelter’s policies and whether either of the warring spouses waits too long before trying to reclaim their pet.
The bill was being pushed by Wisconsin State Representative Sheryl Albers who has firsthand experience due to her husband’s previous divorce. Her husband and his ex fought over Sammi, the family’s aging and ailing Labrador Retriever. A judge finally tied visitation and custody of the dog to provisions regarding the couple’s three children: whoever had the children got the dog at the same time.
Pets don’t always fare well in divorce battles as bitter spouses use beloved pets to extract vengeance for perceived wrongs by their exes. An example is the wife who fought for custody of her husband’s beloved dog, won, and then promptly euthanized it when the divorce was final.
I had to leave pets behind when I divorced the first time. It was the worst thing about the entire divorce.