303 W. Main Street, West Dundee, IL 60118
 | 847-428-7725
Call for a Free Consultation
Evening and Weekend Hours by Appointment
100 Illinois Street, Suite 200, St. Charles, IL 60174
 | 630-200-4882
By Appointment Only
Evening and Weekend Hours by Appointment
West Dundee, IL847-428-7725
St. Charles, IL630-200-4882
Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Search
Serving Kane, McHenry, DuPage and Cook Counties

How Are Pets Treated in an Illinois Divorce?

Posted on in Child Custody

kane county divorce lawyerIn recent years, pets and companion animals have taken on an increasingly important role in our lives. Recent studies show that over 75 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be members of the family, and that viewing pets this way is even beneficial for the owner’s physical and mental health. However, family law statutes throughout the U.S. have been slower to adopt this view, with many states still treating pets as equivalent to other forms of property in divorce cases. Illinois is one of the rare early exceptions, having enacted laws specifically addressing companion animals in divorce cases in 2018.

Which Spouse Keeps the Pets?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act now specifically references companion animals in several places, recognizing that when a couple owns a pet together, ownership of and responsibility for the pet is an important part of the divorce resolution. For example, the law allows spouses to create an agreement regarding possession and care of their pets. In many cases, these agreements include visitation schedules, or even arrangements similar to parenting time in which the pets will live with each spouse on certain days. A companion animal ownership agreement is also noted as a necessary part of a joint simplified dissolution of marriage for couples who have pets.

In cases of contested pet ownership, the law allows a spouse to petition the court for temporary possession of their pet during the divorce process, or more permanent terms for pet ownership in the final divorce resolution. When making a decision, the court will consider whether the pet is a marital asset, typically meaning that it was adopted during the marriage. However, the court will not simply treat a pet as any other type of property, but will instead consider the animal’s well-being and whether continued joint ownership would be appropriate. The court will also exclude service animals from these decisions, ensuring that an animal trained to assist one the spouses will be able to stay with that spouse.

Considering Pets in Your Divorce

If you have a pet that is important to you, the best way to ensure that you can continue to see them after your divorce is often to work out an agreement with your spouse on your own terms. You should consider details like transporting the pet between homes, sharing expenses for food and veterinary care, and ensuring that both homes have everything that your pets need to be happy and healthy. If you also have children, you might consider an arrangement in which your pets travel between homes with your kids. Having an animal companion can often help children cope with the change of a divorce.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

At the Law Offices of Benedict Schwarz, II PC, we understand that your pets may be one of your top priorities in your divorce. We can help you negotiate an agreement with your spouse or petition for ownership of your pet in court. Contact our St. Charles, IL family lawyers at 847-428-7725 to schedule a free consultation today.

 

Sources:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2100&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=500000&SeqEnd=4200000

  • Illinois Best Law Firms
  • Super lawyers
  • Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Comission
  • Lawyers Association Program
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Kane County Bar Association
  • DuPage Bar Association
  • Martin Dale
  • aacfl
Back to Top