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Legal Guidance

Tips for avoiding a contentious pet custody battle

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2021 | animals and divorce |

Pets are often a point of contention in an Illinois divorce. Many former couples find it difficult to come to an agreement about what to do with the family pet once they live in different homes. Illinois is one of several states that now treats pets similarly to children in a divorce, meaning the court system often considers the pet’s best interests before deciding where it should live and when. Even so, emotions are often high when it comes to pets. Former couples may be able to avoid lengthy and potentially costly legal battles fighting over pets by taking a few preemptive steps.

Get an agreement in writing

Just as former couples might create parenting plans that set guidelines about how they plan to co-parent, they might consider doing the same for the once-shared pet. Parties might put their agreed-upon “pet parenting” time schedule in writing and then both sign the document when they agree to its terms.

Address future variables

When former couples co-parent pets, they may need to confer with one another about medical care, grooming, end-of-life decisions and so on. Putting protocols in place outlining who makes these decisions, and when the other party’s consent is going to be necessary, may help former couples co-parent the pet and avoid pet-related disagreements.

Pet parents may also want to discuss possible conflict resolution methods and what happens when one parent wants to take the dog or cat out of the state, among other considerations.