Many people refer to themselves as “pet parents” and refer to their dogs, cats and other critters as their “fur babies”. Illinois is one of three states where this is more than a turn of a phrase- it’s the law when it comes to divorce and pets.
The vast majority of states treat pets in divorce like any other personal property. For example, a dog that was owned by one party prior to the marriage is likely to keep possession of the dog in the event of a divorce. Along with California and Alaska, Illinois has laws on the books that specifically deal with pet custody in divorce.
An Illinois judge can take the pet’s wellbeing into consideration when awarding pet custody. For example, a judge may take into consideration factors such as which pet parent will be more readily available to walk a dog and bring it to regular checkups at the veterinarian.
A judge has the option of granting joint custody of a pet, but this is less common due to the potential stress of travel and adjusting to a new home every few days or weeks. If joint custody is granted, a custody schedule will need to be determined just like a case involving children. Just like child custody, it will be important for both bet parents to set aside their feelings for each other and do what is in the best interest of their fur baby.
The love you have for your fur baby will last forever. If the same cannot be said about your marriage, it is time to seek the advice of an experienced Illinois divorce lawyer.