An Illinois divorce court judge may determine custody of a shared pet based on who regularly cared for it. If you and your spouse shared equally in the cost of a dog’s maintenance, receipts may also help determine who takes custody.
Some couples, however, may have relied on one spouse’s income to fund a household’s expenses, which would include family pets. As reported by WQAD-TV, if you are a nonworking spouse, you may need to prove to a judge that you took care of the animal on a daily basis.
Which activities may serve as evidence of caring for a pet?
Pets require more commitment than purchasing food and paying for veterinary expenses. For example, commitment entails taking your dog for walks and playing with your pet in a park, which does not usually cost anything. You may also have photographs or videos posted on your social media profile that may help prove the extent of your relationship, care and bonding with the animal.
Who takes custody of an expensive pet, such as a show dog?
It may require some negotiating to settle on who takes custody of a show animal that needs performance training, grooming and upkeep. If you acquired a pedigreed dog during your marriage, Illinois considers it part of your marital property. Any revenue it may have generated belongs to both you and your spouse.
Taking ownership of a valuable show dog may require you to “trade” it for another asset that you acquired during your marriage. For example, if a show dog has $1,500 in future earning potential, you may need to give up another marital asset worth $1,500 for a court to award you custody.