Category Archives: Pet Custody

New Pet Custody Law Goes Into Effect in 2018Determining pet custody is complicated in a divorce because it involves aspects of the division of marital property and traditional custody concerns. Illinois’ divorce laws define pets as property, which can be marital or non-marital depending on when ownership started. However, most owners think of their pets in a way that is similar to children. A new Illinois law, going into effect at the start of 2018, changes how pet ownership is treated in a divorce to more closely align with how many owners think of them. Pets are a responsibility that can be shared between divorcing spouses, instead of merely a property that one party gets to keep.


The law introduces terms that are important to understanding the nature of pet custody during a divorce:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_pet-custody.jpgFor thousands couples throughout the United States, pets are members of the family. For these couples, the pet's custody can be a prominent issue during their divorce.

In Illinois, pets are considered to be personal property. This means that they are divided among divorcing couples in the same way that property such as cars, household decor, and recreational items are divided – according to their monetary value. In Illinois, each partner receives a portion of the couple's shared property according to his or her contribution to the marriage's shared property value and his or her economic needs following the divorce. This is known as equitable distribution and is outlined in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. If one spouse owned the pet before the marriage began, the pet may be considered to be singly-held property and thus not subject to property division rules.

If you have an amicable relationship with your former spouse, the best option for you is to work out a pet custody plan among yourselves. Determine which household is better suited to keep the animal – maybe only one of you has adequate yard space for a dog, or one of you lives in an apartment that does not allow pets. Another solution might be to take turns caring for the pet or keep the pet on the same custody schedule as your child, having the pet go to each household during the parent's scheduled custodial time. In some cases, the custodial parent is also awarded custody of the family pet.

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Goostree Law Group

Goostree Law Group

 555 S. Randall Road, Suite 200
St. Charles, IL 60174


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Wheaton, IL 60187


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