Thomas M. Gurewitz, Attorney At Law

Waukegan Family Law Blog

Determining who gets the pet in a sticky divorce

When a couple is embroiled in their divorce in the state of Illinois, it is not uncommon to hear about negotiations about their children, their property and their assets. However, a troubling decision that is not often publicized is determining who gets the pet. For families who have beloved animals, what factors play into deciding the pet's fate? Who will he or she live with? Are pets treated like children in regard to their well-being and needs? 

Of course, there are situations where two people may be able to reach an amicable agreement about who gets to keep the pet, but there are plenty of circumstances that require further negotiations to reach a conclusion. According to Psychology Today, there are situations where visitation and shared custody are approved for the spouse who does not have full custody of the pet. In comparison to the past, pets are starting to be treated more like children are in a divorce rather than shared property. 

Ways to help explain divorce to children

While individuals enter into marriage with a plan to stay together, the reality is that many Illinois couples decide that they are better apart than they are together. This can be an emotional time for both individuals, and particularly tough if children are involved. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there were over 26,000 divorces in 2016, the last year that data was available. With this rate of divorce, thousands of children are left unsure of where they fit.

One important way to protect children during divorce is to pick the right time to approach it and the right way to discuss it. How parents explain divorce to children can make a world of difference when it comes to long term adjustment and emotional health.

Understanding animal custody in Illinois

One of the most contentious aspects of divorce is the process of dividing marital property. Property acquired during a marriage can be wide-ranging, from homes and cars to artwork, jewelry and even pets. Assets that are sentimental in some way have the tendency to be difficult to divide, and perhaps nothing is as sentimental as the family pets.

Traditionally, pets in a divorce are treated in the exact same way that, say, a piece of artwork would. This forces the divorcing spouses to enter a bargaining process to distribute all assets in a way that can be agreed upon. In Illinois, if asset division needs to be decided upon by the courts, they will seek to divide assets equitably. This means that a 50/50 split will not necessarily be achieved, but instead, a fair division based on all circumstances will be attained.

What is considered marital property?

When filing for divorce in Illinois, there are some things you should keep in mind when it comes to dividing marital property. Marital property is divided in a fair and equitable fashion, meaning the judge will take in consideration several factors when determining who is entitled to what in the divorce settlement. You and your spouse are responsible for disclosing all property and assets in your possession. This includes contents of your checking and savings accounts, furniture, property and vehicles. However, there are some lesser known items that may get overlooked when it comes time to distribute marital property, or the property and assets that have been accumulated during the marriage.

In addition to the family home, cars, savings accounts and furniture, the following are items of marital property that are eligible for division in a marriage:

  •          Lottery ticket winnings and income tax refunds
  •          Memberships to exclusive golf courses and country clubs
  •          Expensive collections, such as art, antiques, cars, horses and coins
  •          Intellectual property, such as copyrights, patents, trademarks and royalties
  •          Gifts given to one another during the marriage
  •          Term life insurance policies, 401k plans, stocks and IRA accounts

How can you co-parent successfully after an Illinois divorce?

It is generally held that children in the state of Illinois, and throughout the U.S., benefit from having a relationship with both of their parents. Therefore, you may choose to enter into a shared parenting arrangement after a divorce, so that you and your child’s other parent can continue to share in the joy and responsibility of raising them. We at the law office of Thomas M Gurewitz Attorney at Law know that co-parenting with an ex can be challenging and have helped many parents work together for the benefit of their children.

Communication is often a problem for couples who have gotten divorced, However, maintaining open communication is vital for successful co-parenting. You must talk openly and often about your child’s schedules, activities and any issues he or she may be dealing with, as well as things going on in your own lives that may affect your children. According to U.S. News, it may be helpful for you to take a business-like approach to these shared parenting discussions. You and your former spouse may consider holding weekly meetings or exchanging emails or phone messages in order to pass along pertinent information to one another.

Is my partner cheating?

Many marriages cannot survive infidelity. Because this is considered to be such a serious issue, most spouses become quite alarmed when they notice signs that their partner might be unfaithful. While every person is different, Psychology Today provides the following tips on how you can recognize the common signs of infidelity in a marriage.  

Many spouses become highly secretive when it comes to mobile devices when they are being unfaithful. This can include devices like cell phones and laptops, which may suddenly have passwords attached or the previous password may be changed. Also, be wary of the deletion of messages or browser history, as this can be a sign that your spouse is trying to hide messages or other information.

Set up a pet custody arrangement after divorce

When Illinois residents divorce, they typically need to consider what will happen to their pet. Some couples may decide to share custody of their pet and in this situation, they may need a custody agreement. 

When people write a custody arrangement, there are several things they need to include in this document. The Legal Dictionary says that a couple should talk about which one of them can spend more time with this animal and who can afford pet care. If a couple has children, they might want to keep the kids and the pet together. Some people may choose to have joint custody of their pet. In this situation, a pet might spend an equal amount of time with both people and they may both pay for food and vet bills.

Don't let social media tank your divorce

Strategy is everything when you are going through a divorce. That's why it's so vital to rein in your social media usage during the pendency of the divorce proceedings.

Does that mean that you have to permanently shutter your Twitter account and bid permanent adieu to Facebook? No, not at all. But it does mean that, at least for the time being, you will lower your social media profile and think twice before posting online.

How can I make the most of custody visits?

If your ex has primary custody of your children, you’ll likely be allowed visitation. It’s crucial that you play a role in the life of your children and visits allow you to do just that. Making the most of your visits is also important, and Live About offers tips on how you can do so. 

Be respectful to your ex

How can my family adjust when adopting an older child?

Adopting an older child in Illinois can be challenging for many families. While your heart is surely in the right place, the transition from one situation to another is often difficult for many kids, especially those who've been in foster care for some time. In this case, Live About offers the following advice, which can help the whole family adjust.

It’s important to keep your adopted child’s previous living situation confidential. This is especially true for children coming from troubled backgrounds, who may feel ashamed about their situations. While most people are bound to be sympathetic, others may react to the information in an unproductive way. Additionally, all people must be able to retain privacy as they see fit, especially in a situation like this.

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