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How to Obtain Custody of Your Family Dog

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How to Obtain Custody of Your Family Dog

For many people, pets are like family. If you and your spouse adopted a furry friend at some point during your time together, you might wonder who gets custody in a divorce. This can be a potentially heart-rending issue in some cases, and our Illinois divorce attorney explains what you need to know to protect your rights.    

Can You Sue Your Spouse for Custody of the Family Dog?

While you may think of your dog as a child or other trusted member of your family, it is important to recognize how the court views pets in divorce proceedings. They are living creatures, but under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, they are classified under the category of property. 

If you or your spouse adopted/purchased a pet prior to getting married, technically, they belong to the original owner. However, if they became part of your family during your marriage, then your dog is subject to property division in divorce, alongside other items such as homes, cars, and other personal belongings. 

Illinois is an equitable division state, meaning rather than dividing everything 50/50 between the spouses, marital property is divided in a way that is fair to both. Some considerations in determining who is entitled to custody of the family dog include: 

  • The total value of all marital property and assets;
  • The amount the dog is worth, such as in the case of a purebred or exotic pet;
  • The amount of time and money each party invested in the dog’s care;
  • Whether you are willing to negotiate on other items to get full custody.  

Getting Custody of the Family Dog

Disputes between parties are common in Cook County Family Court cases. This includes fighting over who gets custody of the family dog. As explained above, dogs fall under the category of marital property. However, there are still some ways this situation is similar to proceedings involving children. If you are hoping to get custody, you may want to gather evidence showing the following: 

  • That you have a greater level of attachment to the dog and act as their primary caregiver;
  • That you have the ability to provide for the dog’s needs, including time, money, and adequate housing;
  • That you have children who have an emotional attachment to the dog and that separation from the family pet could negatively impact them;
  • That your dog serves as a service or support animal for you or your children;
  • That there is evidence your spouse previously neglected or mistreated the dog when it was in their care.  

Our Illinois Divorce Attorneys are Here to Help

Dogs provide a source of love, companionship, and protection. It is understandable to have concerns about getting custody of them in a divorce. At Andrea Heckman Law, we sympathize and can help you gather the evidence needed in your case. To request a consultation, call or contact our Illinois divorce attorney online today. 

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Andrea Heckman

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