Who Will Get Our Dog in an Illinois Divorce?

 Posted on November 28, 2023 in Pet Custody

St. Charles Divorce LawyerWhile a lot of people are aware of the most common topics that generally need to be divided up in a divorce - child custody; alimony/spousal support; division of property, assets, and debts - there are some divorce issues that people are less aware of. You might be surprised to know, for example, that what happens to a family pet in divorce is an entire topic of its own.

Some people might consider pets property since they are animals and not humans. But in many cases, families consider their pet a member of the family. This can make it harder to consider a pet an item that needs to be distributed. If you are considering divorce but find yourself worried it could mean the end of your relationship with your beloved pet, an experienced Kane County, IL divorce lawyer can help you navigate the process and advocate for your rights and interests.

How Do We Decide Who Gets Our Pet if We Both Love Her?

When a couple gets divorced, it can be extremely complicated trying to decide where their shared pet will live. For the courts to be able to decide this, both spouses will need to gather and present evidence that supports their claims. In this way, decisions about a pet are no different from decisions about any other aspect of divorce

The first and most obvious thing you will want to be able to present is your pet’s “papers”. You should have access to paperwork that shows proof of ownership as well as records about vaccinations and other pet healthcare issues. The paperwork will be able to show whether your pet is a purebred animal that was purchased or an adopted pet; whether they are up to date on their vaccinations; whether they have had routine checkups and if so, who brought them to the veterinarian for this purpose, and other information related to their physical health.

The local veterinarian’s office might also have records that could shed light on which spouse shouldered the majority of the pet-care needs, which was most often in contact with the doctor’s office, and which engaged in follow-up to ensure the pet’s success. Other witnesses might be able to help contribute to the greater picture by sharing pictures or videos of the pet that could show which spouse the pet spent more time with. Based on this testimony and evidence, the judge might feel confident ruling on which spouse the pet will thrive with more.

Does Property-Division Include Pets?

At one point, family pets were unequivocally considered part of marital property. In the year 2018, changes were added to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, to include matters related to pets. Ever since then, Illinois courts have put a pet’s best interests into consideration when trying to figure out which spouse they should live with.

In some cases, a pet was brought into a home when a couple was already together. In other cases, the pet was brought into the marriage by one of the spouses. Sometimes, a pet is given to someone else as a gift. Other times, the pet just shows up at someone’s door and that’s the beginning of their bond. However the pet came to be part of the couple’s life, they will need to proceed cautiously in trying to determine which spouse’s home would suit the pet more.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a St. Charles, IL Divorce Attorney

If you share a pet with your soon-to-be ex, you may find yourself concerned that you could lose this beloved animal companion in a divorce. A knowledgeable Kane County, IL divorce lawyer can walk you through the entire process of determining where a pet should go after divorce. Please call Goostree Law Group at 630-584-4800 to schedule a free consultation.

Share this post:
Back to Top