Thomas M. Gurewitz, Attorney At Law

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. 

The Dog People suggest that when a divorce is inevitable, that pet owners take a moment to assess the health and needs of their beloved animal friend. Some of the considerations they should think about include the following:

  • If there are multiple pets, if each shows favoritism to different people, perhaps a multi-split is the best option. 
  • If the pet was originally owned by one of the people, perhaps the animal should remain with its original owner. 
  • If there is one person whose lifestyle is not as functional for owning a dog, perhaps the other spouse should maintain ownership. 

What may be surprising to many people is that one of the most common reasons that people rehome their pets is because of a divorce. 

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