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Who Keeps the Dog in a Divorce?

 Posted on November 22, 2023 in Divorce

DuPage County divorce lawyerEvery pet owner will, more often than not, consider their pet one of the family. However, in the case of a divorce, the family dog is seen as more like marital property. Thankfully, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act does provide some provisions for custody regarding companion animals. A divorce lawyer can review this and more with you during the consultation.

What is Marital Property?

Marital property and marital assets are property you and your spouse have acquired throughout your marriage. Even things solely in your name alone, if created, received, or acquired during the marriage, are then subject to division in court. The only exception is gifts or inheritance received specifically awarded to one spouse. This is considered personal property. So long as no personal assets are commingled with marital assets, it can remain the owner's sole property even in a divorce.

Why is My Pet Considered Marital Property?

The reason your pet is considered marital property is because you acquired it during your marriage. If your pet was your pet before marriage, it could still be considered your property, not marital property. However, suppose the other spouse has mainly contributed to your personal pet's well-being during the marriage through things like feeding and spending personal time with that pet on a considerable basis. In that case, the pet can then be considered marital property.

Remember that only companion animals can be considered marital property in this way. Service animals, such as seeing eye dogs or other animals received for stress reduction and other medically approved purposes, are not subject to marital asset division.

So Then, Who Receives The Dog in the Divorce?

When allocating parental responsibilities, a court must determine the pet's best interest, similar to that of a minor child. The judge will make their ruling based on what they feel is the best course of action for the pet's well-being. There are no set factors that a judge must choose from to determine sole or joint ownership of the dog. However, some factors they may consider before providing a final decision include:

  • The wishes of the owners
  • How significant each owner's participation was with the pet (who had the most time with the pet, who took it to the vet, grooming, or fed and walked the pet)
  • The history of violence or abuse toward the pet by either owner
  • How the pet feels toward one or both owners
  • The child-pet bond, if applicable

Consult a DuPage County, IL Divorce Lawyer

A divorce can bring many complications and legal matters you may not have expected. Fighting to retain ownership of your pet likely falls under this category. It may take compromise, but a skilled Wheaton, IL, family law and divorce attorney will assist you in your time of need. The Davi Law Group is experienced in divorce settlements dealing with marital assets. Contact our office at 630-657-5052 for a free consultation and to develop a plan for keeping your furry family friend where they belong.

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