Perhaps you are familiar with the phrase “fur babies” or even have some fur babies of your own. The thought of being without your beloved pet due to a divorce is distressing.
The state of Illinois is one of the few states that have laws specifically dealing with the issue of pet custody in divorce. No matter how much a pet feels like a family member, most states consider pets to be property and treat them accordingly in divorce proceedings.
Under Illinois law, judges have the discretion to treat pets similar to children in divorce. They are allowed to consider the pet’s best interest when determining who will maintain possession of the pet after the divorce. For example, a judge may consider issues such as who spends the most time with the pet, who is responsible for bringing the pet to vet appointments, and who has invested the most money into the pet’s care.
Prior to this law’s enactment in 2017, pets were divided like any other property, usually awarded to one spouse. Today, it is not uncommon to resolve these issues by granting both spouses custody, also known as joint-ownership.
It is essential to understand your rights and obligations, like any custody issue. An experienced divorce attorney can examine your circumstances and build a strong case for maintaining custody of your pet. When an agreement cannot be reached amicably through negotiation or collaborative divorce, you can rely on your attorney to pursue your pet’s best interest at trial.