Everyone who is a pet owner knows that their pet is part of the family, and to some people, their pets are even like children. For the longest time, pets were considered property in an Illinois divorce, and the spouse who got to keep a pet was mostly determined by who purchased the animal. A recent change to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act now includes a clause about pets which sets out guidelines to determine who gets the pets when spouses get a divorce.
Pets are Treated More Like Children Under New Law
A new law that took effect at the beginning of 2018 now allows pets to be treated more like dependents and less like property. This means that Illinois now recognizes that animals are living beings, and their best interests need to be taken into consideration when a separation is in order. However, it will still need to be determined whether or not pets are considered marital property before any allocation occurs. If a pet is found to be marital property, a judge can now consider certain factors when determining who gets custody of a pet in the divorce.
Much like when you are getting a divorce with children, either party can petition for sole or joint possession and responsibility of a pet or “companion animal,” as the Act puts it. The petitioner could either be awarded sole or joint custody of the animal, depending on the judge’s decision on what is in the best interests of the pet. The only animals that this change does not apply to are service animals, but in cases with companion animals, judges may consider factors such as:
- Who spends more time with the animal.
- Who takes the animal to the veterinarian.
- Who trained the animal.
- Who tends to the animal’s daily needs, such as eating or walking.
- Who has financially provided for the animal.
Use a Lincolnwood Divorce Attorney to Settle Your Pet Custody Disputes
For most pet owners, their animals are part of the family, which is why this new law was enacted–to treat animals owned by divorcing couples more like family members. If you are going through a divorce and are concerned about who your pet will end up with, you should contact an Elmhurst divorce lawyer who can help you fight to keep your beloved animal in your possession. By working with Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC, you can have peace of mind knowing that your attorney has a proven track record of successfully settling family law cases. To set up a consultation, call our office at 630-530-4400.