A Wisconsin legislator wants state law to govern how divorced couples handle custody disputes -- over their pets.
"I wonder what it was that made someone think that they need to have a special statute for this?" asked Madison divorce attorney Steven Bach, who said he'd had only a handful of pet-custody cases in his 33-year career.
Nicky Symons of McFarland thinks she knows what unleashed Albers' legislation.
The legislator is married to Symons' ex-husband, Steven Anders.
In 2003, Symons and Anders divorce was finalized. The divorce included wrangling over who would have to care for and pay for their dog Sammi, short for Samantha. The dispute arose, she said, because neither she nor Anders, who married Albers this year, wanted the aging dog, but their three children did.
Albers' bill would prohibit judges from ordering couples to share the placement of a pet -- the arrangement the judge ordered for Sammi -- unless both sides agree to that. If they can't agree on what to do with the pet, the bill allows a judge to give the pet to one spouse or order it sent to the Humane Society.
That seemed "awfully draconian" to Brian Bushaw, a Madison attorney who sits on the State Bar of Wisconsin's family law committee.
"It doesn't sound fair to the dog, frankly," said Bushaw, who doesn't speak for the Bar.
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