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Who Gets the Pets in an Illinois Divorce?

Posted on in Property Division

Who Gets the Pets in an Illinois Divorce?Pets can often feel like family members. So, when there is a divorce, the family pets may be affected as well and couples may fight over whom the pet lives with after the divorce. This article looks at the laws and rules regarding pets during a divorce in Illinois.

What Status do Pets Have?

Though pets may feel in a lot of ways like children or other family members, the law generally looks at them as property. However, now that both divorce rates and pet ownership rates have risen, judges may be more likely to take into account the unique needs of pets. Essentially, judges are able to decide themselves whether they treat a pet more like a lamp or like a child.

However, unlike with children, judges are not able to award visitation or approve any other kind of “parenting plan” where time with the animal is legally mandated to be split. Divorcing couples are allowed to make their own arrangements for sharing time with the pet without court involvement.

What Factors Will a Judge Consider?

Many factors contribute to how a judge will consider the pet. If the pet is seen like any other kind of property, the judge may be more focused on whether a party brought the dog into the marriage, or whether the dog was purchased during the marriage. Judges may also look at the value of the pet and then offset that value by awarding additional property to the party that does not get the pet.

If a judge is more willing to look at a pet as a living thing, rather than just a piece of property, he or she will probably look at some additional factors. Some things that may be considered are the living situation of each party, how often each party is home, who did most of the caretaking of the pet during the relationship, and who has more of an emotional bond with the pet. The court may also look at where any children will be living and their relationship with the pet.

What is Best for Pets?

The best situation is for the divorcing couple to come to an agreement amongst themselves about where the pets should live and who should take care of them. Divorcing couples are then free to be as creative as possible. For example, some couples will trade weeks or months with the pet. Other couples will decide that the pet should live with one of them on the other person will pet sit while that person is away. Pets may be attached to certain people or places and it is best to try to keep that in mind when determining who will get the pets in a divorce.

DuPage County Property Division Lawyers

If you are thinking about divorce and are worried about who will get the pets, you need a skilled property division attorney on your side to make your case to the judge and your ex-spouse. Our experienced DuPage County property division attorneys at Davi Law Group, LLC, can help advocate for your position when it comes to property division during divorce.

Sources:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-divorcing-couple-struggles-with-pet-custody-20140716-story.html https://www.animallaw.info/intro/custody-pets-divorce

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