Who Gets the Family Dog?

who gets the family pet


One of my main areas of practice is family law. Over the last 32 years, I have handled many types of divorces and family matters from amicable to contentious and with all sorts of custody issues over children, property, and, yes, even pets.

The fact is the family pet is just that – part of the family – and resolving who will continue to feed and care for Fido can be as intense and stressful as who keeps the house or the dining room set. Plus it is important to recognize that your pet may also be feeling the emotional distress from the split-up.

Under Wisconsin law, Fido, is considered personal property but we know our furry friends are so much more!

So here are some general guidelines for dealing with man’s and woman’s best friend:

  • Determine who has been the primary caregiver.
  • Determine who your pet is closest to.
  • Determine who has the financial means, time, energy, interest and schedule to best look after your pet’s needs.
  • If both parties are equally caring and capable, consider joint custody (yes, it is done and can work).
  • Determine which custody situation provides the least disruption for your pet (e.g., living in the same house and neighborhood ensures continuity).
  • Consider your pet’s individual characteristics and what makes him/her happy.
  • Above all, do what is best for your pet!

I have many years of experience providing sound advice and practical solutions to all kinds of family matters, and I have owned pets all of my life (that’s Callie in the photo). Ultimately the answer to “Who gets the dog?” comes down to working out a mutually-agreeable arrangement for the benefit of all.

Resnick & Resnick, S.C. has been providing professional legal representation since 1953.  In addition to Family Law, our areas of expertise include Real Estate, Personal Injury, Estate Planning and Probate matters, and more. Also, we are regularly called upon to provide mediation services in a variety of cases. If you or someone you know needs help in resolving their family law and custody issues, please give me a call 414-600-1177.