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What Happens to Pets in an Illinois Divorce?

Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce lawyerWhen you are in the middle of a divorce, there can be so many things to manage and negotiate that the custody of a pet may not immediately come to mind. However, if you are like most pet owners, your dog or cat is part of your family, and you care deeply about its well-being. You should be sure to understand your options for ensuring that your pet remains in your life after the divorce.

Illinois Law Regarding Pets in a Divorce

In January of 2018, Illinois law changed to treat pets more like children, giving couples the option to share custody of their pets after a divorce. Prior to this law, pets were considered regular property like a house or a car. This meant they would have to be divided up along with all the other assets and given to one spouse or the other. The spouse who was not awarded ownership of a pet had no legal recourse to do anything and was left to deal with their loss.

Joint or Sole Ownership

Today, although pets are still technically considered property, both spouses can ask for ownership. Judges in a divorce case can grant sole or joint ownership, possibly with a visitation schedule similar to those used for parenting time. Judges will take into consideration things like who does the most work in taking care of the pet, whether the pet was owned by one party prior to the marriage, and what factors play into the best interests of the pet.

What is Best for the Pet?

Unfortunately, divorce is actually one of the most common reasons that pets are brought to animal shelters. It may be unclear what exactly is in the best interests of the pet, but animal experts agree that pets do best when they are in familiar surroundings and know what to expect. Changes are always part of divorce, but keeping a pet with you or your spouse will almost certainly be better for the pet than taking them to a shelter.

Companion vs. Service Animals

It is important to note that current Illinois laws regarding the possibility of joint pet ownership after divorce only apply to pets that are considered companion animals, not trained service animals. A trained service animal will remain with the partner whom the animal serves.

Hire a Naperville, IL Divorce Lawyer

If you are worried or unsure about Illinois law determining what will happen to your beloved pet after a divorce, contact a DuPage County divorce attorney. The knowledgeable and compassionate lawyers at Goostree Law Group will help you understand the law in Illinois and how it applies to your case. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at 630-364-4046 and find out more about your options.

 

Sources:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=6000000&SeqEnd=8300000

https://www.ourfamilywizard.com/blog/pets-and-divorce

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