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What Will Happen to My Pet in My Illinois Divorce?

Posted on in Pet Custody

St. Charles divorce pet custody attorneyWhen determining parenting arrangements for children during divorce, there are rules that help determine a child’s future based on his or her well-being. Divorcing couples will also need to determine how to divide their property and assets. However, what happens when the property shared between a couple is a living thing? For many years, Illinois law treated pets as property, similar to a television or furniture, but the law was recently changed, and additional considerations now apply to pets during a divorce. 

What Has Changed?

In 2018, an amendment to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5) regarding the treatment of pets during a divorce was put into effect. Deciding on the “custody” of pets is now handled in a manner that is closer to that of children than it once was. While pets are still considered property, the new law states that when making decisions about ownership of pets—referred to as companion animals in the law—a judge should consider the animal’s well-being. This law, however, does not apply to service animals. A service animal is defined as an animal that is specially trained to benefit a person with a disability, such as a guide dog for a blind person or a seizure response dog that specializes in aiding a person with a seizure disorder. These animals are likely to stay with the person whom they are trained to serve.

When parental responsibilities, or child custody, are determined by the court, the health and safety of the child are put first. While a similar consideration now applies to family pets, the animal’s well-being is just part of the overall equation rather than the top priority. If one party takes better care of the animal, or the other is in an unstable living environment, the pet can be placed with the spouse who will better provide for the animal’s well-being. The party who purchased the pet or regularly took care of the pet may also be taken into consideration.

Pet custody is often an important issue for younger generations, who tend to have children later in life, and who often consider pets to be an important part of the family. In some cases, former partners may share ownership of pets, similar to having joint custody of children. Every divorce case is different, and an attorney can help you determine your best options as you work to reach an agreement about your pets.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney

Your pet is not a table or car, so it should be treated differently from other marital property during your divorce. Contact an experienced St. Charles divorce attorney from Goostree Law Group to ensure that your beloved pet stays in your life. We will work to protect your rights and interests throughout the divorce process. Set up a free consultation by calling our office at 630-584-4800.



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