Many people consider their pets to be part of the family, but the law often treats pets as personal property. In a recent case, a husband challenged court-ordered visitation with the dogs awarded to him in his divorce decree.
The parties, who had been married for about 27 years, had two dogs at the time of the divorce. They referred to the dogs as “[t]he babies” and regularly texted about them. When the wife moved out into a motor home, the dogs remained in the marital home with the husband. The wife visited them several times a week.
The husband petitioned for legal separation at the end of August, 2018. In her answer, the wife asked the court to dissolve the marriage and requested at least 10 hours per week visitation with the dogs and the right of first refusal for their care. She also asked that the parties split costs for the dogs. The commissioner’s temporary orders only ordered the wife to pay half of the dogs’ grooming and veterinary bills, but otherwise did not address the dogs. She kept visiting them several times per week.