Determining Who Keeps the Pets in a Divorce

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Determining Who Keeps the Pets in a Divorce

Pets are a big part of our lives, and there is no denying that a beloved pet can help you get through difficult times, including divorce. The thought of losing your pet in a divorce can be exceptionally distressing, but a better understanding of how the State of Illinois handles matters related to pets and divorce can help you move ahead with greater clarity. If you have concerns regarding how your divorce will affect your pet ownership, reach out to an experienced Illinois divorce attorney today. 

Pets in the State of Illinois

While some states have moved beyond looking at pets as pieces of property (just like any other asset), the State of Illinois still addresses pets this way in divorce. In other words, whether the pet stays with you, goes with your ex, or splits its time between the two of you will be determined within the context of the division of your marital property. 

If You and Your Divorcing Spouse Are in Agreement

If you and your soon-to-be-ex agree about whom your pet should stay with – or come to an agreement regarding how you will share your time with the pet – that will put an end to the matter, and you won’t need to address it with the court. If you both have a stake in keeping the pet and cannot hammer out mutually acceptable terms regarding how you will do so, however, you’ll need the court to weigh in. 

Involved Factors

Illinois courts would generally prefer not to address issues as personal as pet custody within the context of divorce. If you can find no other solutions to your pet custody concern, however, the court will take several factors into consideration, including:

  • If the pet belonged to one of you prior to the marriage, it will likely be considered that spouse’s separate property.
  • If the pet was a gift to one of you during the marriage, the above may also be true. 
  • If one of you moved out and left the pet during the pendency of your divorce, this may tip the balance in the other’s direction.
  • If one of you has a much closer relationship with the pet, it is also likely to influence the court’s finding. 

Finally, if there is any evidence that your spouse harmed or mistreated the pet in question, it is very likely to affect the court’s decision on the matter. Generally, unless there is a compelling reason for doing otherwise, the issue of pet custody won’t be resolved until the divorce case is ready to be finalized. The hope is that you and your divorcing spouse will find middle ground and will be able to negotiate mutually acceptable terms between yourselves.  

Turn to an Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorney for the Legal Guidance You Need

The compassionate Illinois divorce attorneys at Andrea Heckman Law understand how important your pets are to you and are committed to helping you negotiate a workable solution to your pet-related concern. To learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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