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Do I Have to Share My Dog With My Ex After We Get an Illinois Divorce?

Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_386724640.jpgPets of all kinds are often loved and cared for as another member of the family. Children who grow up with a dog or cat in the home may have known that animal their entire lives and feel very attached to it. So when a couple decides to get divorced, the issue of how to manage the family pet can become quite contentious. Spouses often want to know who will get to keep the pet, how such a decision will be made, and who will pay for the expenses of caring for the pet in the future. If you are getting divorced and wondering what will happen to Fido, read on. 

Does Illinois Have Pet “Custody” Laws? 

Illinois law recognizes that people love their pets and want to give them the best possible life, even after divorce. Although pets are technically still considered property under Illinois law, a pet cannot be “divided” the same way another asset, like a bank account, could be divided. 

Pet parents cannot enter into pet custody proceedings quite the same way as they can for children, but the law does distinguish between a dog or cat and a piece of jewelry or a car. If a pet-mom owned Fido before getting married, Fido will likely be considered personal property and will go with her after the divorce. If a couple got Fido during their marriage, he will likely be considered a marital asset and Illinois courts can consider the well-being of Fido when making decisions about who he will belong to or spend time with. However, there are exceptions to these general rules.For example, if one spouse has been responsible for caring for Fido and has a stronger relationship with him than the other spouse, that spouse who cares for Fido will likely get ownership. Pictures, videos, and receipts can all illustrate which spouse cared for a pet and may be useful if a spouse is seeking full ownership. 

Parenting Time May Influence a Pet’s Location 

When making decisions about pets, courts may also consider where the children will be. Kids often develop strong relationships with family pets, and if one parent has the majority of the parenting time, the pet may be more likely to stay with that parent. 

As with all negotiations in the divorce process, alternative dispute resolution strategies like mediation and collaborative divorce may help divorcing couples come to an agreement about how to handle their pet. If a couple wants to share pet “custody” and the expenses of caring for a pet, they may include this in their divorce agreement. 

Meet with an Arlington Heights Asset Division Lawyer

If you are getting divorced and have questions about any aspect of the divorce process, schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced Arlington Heights divorce attorney with A. Traub & Associates. There is no question too small for our skilled attorneys to take seriously. We will treat your case with the seriousness it deserves and advocate passionately on your behalf so you can get your divorce over with and move on with life. Call us today at [[phone]] to learn more. 





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