For couples who have decided to get a divorce, one issue that may catch them unprepared is how to deal with the family pet, if they have one. In some cases, a pet may be beloved by both spouses, and neither one can imagine life without it. The law, of course, provides guidelines on how to deal with issues involving children of divorcing parents, and decisions about the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time are made based on what is in children’s best interests. However, pets are often a different story.
Changes to the Laws on Pet Ownership After Divorce
While divorce has been around for a long time, new and increasingly complex issues often arise in divorce cases. As a result, legislatures must pass new laws to address or respond to these new issues. Illinois is no exception, and one area the legislature has recently addressed is pet ownership after divorce.
In the past, pets were treated as property, and therefore, their ownership was determined in the same manner as all other marital property. However, there is no rational way to split ownership of a pet based on a percentage, neither is it humane to treat a pet the same as a piece of furniture. When factoring in the emotional nature of decisions related to family pets, the need for the legislature to act on these matters becomes evident....