Thomas M. Gurewitz, Attorney At Law

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 the law in Illinois regarding animal custody?

Since the 1st January 2018, Illinois has had a law in place that makes it possible for divorcing spouses to treat their pets more like children than assets to be divided. The law makes it possible for judges in a divorce to consider to best interests of pets in the marriage. This means that it can now be possible for divorcing spouses to have joint custody of a pet.

How does the new law make divorce easier?

The new law makes it possible for Illinois divorcing spouses to move past what might be a huge roadblock in litigating their divorce. If both spouses are attached to the pet, anything other than joint custody may be impossible to accept.

The law sees pets for what they truly are: loved and cherished members of the family rather than assets to be divided for monetary gain. Overall, the new law has the potential to avoid a traumatic and upsetting split. In addition, the law makes sure that the pet will get the care that it deserves, and, if necessary, it will be placed with the owner who has the best capacity for care.

If you are undecided on which spouse will keep the family pet after divorce, it is important to learn more about asset division in Illinois.

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