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How Pets Are Handled in an Illinois Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton IL family law lawyerMany people nowadays consider their pets an important part of their family. Dogs and cats provide companionship and can reduce your anxiety and depression. If you and your spouse have recently filed for divorce, you may wonder who will get the family pet. Your furry family member likely means the world to you, and imagining your life without it may be difficult. In Illinois, pets were once considered marital property in a divorce. However, as of 2018, pets are looked at somewhat similarly to children during divorce proceedings.

Factors Judges Consider When Determining Custody of Pets

Before 2018, pets would be given to one spouse in a divorce based on what was fair and equitable. These days, however, a family court judge will assign custody based in part on the animal’s well-being. A judge may look at many different factors before coming to a decision, such as each spouse’s relationship with the pet and contributions to its care. If one spouse, for example, spends more time with the pet and has paid for the majority of the food, vet and grooming bills, the judge may grant custody to that spouse. Your testimony and evidence of expenditures and care for the pet may help to strengthen your case.

In some cases, the judge may grant joint custody if it would be in the dog or cat’s best interests to keep a relationship with both partners. For example, the judge may rule that the pet will be on the same parenting schedule that your kids are on.

Exceptions to the Law

There are, of course, certain exceptions to the new pet custody law in Illinois. For example, if one spouse owned the pet before the marriage, the animal would be more likely to remain with the original owner. Service animals are another exception to this law. If an animal was professionally trained to help one spouse with certain tasks, that animal will remain with the same spouse after the divorce is finalized.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

If you have additional questions about pet custody, you should speak to a Wheaton, IL divorce lawyer promptly. At Davi Law Group, we understand how important your pet is to you and can help you protect your relationship. We encourage you to call 630-580-6373 to schedule a free consultation.





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