Thomas M. Gurewitz, Attorney At Law

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Legal Guidance

Pets get near-human status in IL divorces

| Jul 15, 2020 | animals and divorce |

It is not uncommon for parents to battle over the allocation of parental responsibilities. In most cases, parents want to keep as much parenting time for themselves as possible. This is especially common when one spouse handled most of the parenting responsibilities while the other worked outside of the home. What happens when the “children” are furry and four-legged, though?

Most states treat pets like personal property and divide them between spouses, accordingly. In many instances, the courts might even decline to get involved in pet ownership battles. However, in 2018, a new law took effect in Illinois that treated pets more like children than non-living assets.

Most people might not need it

While many couples across Illinois can breathe a sigh of relief that they might get shared allocation rights over their pets as mandated by court orders, others might not need this at all. In fact, most people settle disputes related to pets outside of court. In these cases, arrangements for pets become part of the mediated agreement. In other cases, ownership would be more straightforward and may not even require mediation:

  • If one person owned the pet before the marriage, that person would retain ownership of the pet after divorce.
  • A service animal obtained during the marriage would remain with the person who needed the animal.

If you have questions or concerns about what will happen to your pet in an Illinois divorce, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney who can explain your options and guide you through the process.