Category Archives: Pets in Divorce

What Happens to Pets in an Illinois Divorce?

Wheaton divorce attorney for pet custodyFor 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.

What Judges May Consider When Deciding Pet Ownership

According to the updated law, judges in Illinois divorce cases are now required to consider the well-being of the pet when deciding ownership. However, pets are still legally considered to be property, so the laws regarding the division of marital property will still apply in determining who gets the pet. What the law now brings into the equation is deciding which of the two spouses will give the pet better care—something that was not a factor before.

How About Joint Custody of Pets?

Joint “custody” of a pet is possible under the new Illinois law. If a couple demonstrates that they are both capable of taking care of the pet, and if they can afford to and wish to continue to share the pet, then a judge may decide that joint ownership of the pet is the best option. In these cases, the couple may create a schedule of when the pet will stay in each home, and they may wish to specify how they will divide costs related to the pet, such as vet bills.

Contact a Wheaton Marital Property Division Lawyer

If you have a pet and are determined to keep it after divorcing in Illinois, we are here to give you guidance on how to resolve this and other disputes. Find out how a knowledgeable DuPage County divorce attorney can help you achieve your objectives during your divorce by calling our office today at 630-871-1002 to arrange a free consultation.



Is Pet Custody Treated Like Child Custody in an Illinois Divorce?

Wheaton divorce pet custody attorneyNumerous studies have shown that pets have a profoundly beneficial impact on our lives. In fact, the bonds that we create with dogs, cats, and other companion animals can be just as strong as the ones we create with other humans. Pets can even provide a variety of physical and mental health benefits for their owners, including lower blood pressure, reduced stress, lower levels of loneliness, and stronger immune systems for babies. Pets can also provide support for children with disabilities and autism, and they often help create an overall higher degree of happiness.

Because dogs, cats, and other pets quickly become irreplaceable members of our households, it can be difficult for both owners and the pets themselves when a divorce rips them away from us. However, by working with a skilled attorney, you can determine your best options for addressing ownership of your pets during your divorce.

A Pet’s Well-Being Is Taken Into Account During Pet “Custody” Disputes

There is good news for divorcing pet owners: Illinois recently passed a law that requires courts to take into consideration the well-being of pets when making decisions about pet custody, or, more accurately, pet ownership. While pets are still considered to be part of the marital property that should be divided between spouses, in many cases, spouses are able to come to an agreement regarding pet ownership, which can be sole or joint, just like child custody.

If a couple is unable to compromise, a judge’s decision will take into account what is best for the “companion animal.” This can include such factors as the following:

  • The living accommodations for the pet.
  • The work schedule of each party. For example, a spouse that travels constantly may not be able to provide quality care and attention.
  • The presence of children in the household that would enrich the pet’s life.
  • The presence of another non-maritally owned pet living with one of the parties that the pet has created an emotional bond with.
  • The financial ability of each party to care for the pet.
  • Which party has, in the past, demonstrated better caregiving qualities for the pet, such as taking the pet to the vet, grooming, talking the pet on walks, feeding the pet, purchasing food and toys, playing with the pet, etc.

A Wheaton Pet Custody Lawyer Can Help You Win Sole Ownership of Your Beloved Dog, Cat, or Other Pet

There is no way around it. Pets are part of the family, and Illinois law is finally catching up to reflect the importance that dogs, cats, and other animals have on our lives, as well as the impact that good owners have on animals’ lives. The skilled DuPage County divorce attorneys at the Andrew Cores Family Law Group can help you receive ownership of your pet. Give us a call at 630-871-1002 to schedule a free consultation today.


Can I Seek Pet Visitation in an Illinois Divorce?

petsIt is not unusual for spouses to argue about child visitation rights as part of a divorce settlement. But what about pets? After all, many couples consider their dogs, cats, and other animals to be “members of the family.” It stands to reason, then, that custody of pets, including visitation rights, could be a matter for a divorce court to resolve.

Canadian Judge Says Dogs Are the Not the Same as Children

Unfortunately for animal lovers, that is not how the law works in most places. A judge in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan was recently asked to award custody of two dogs in a contested divorce. The husband offered to split custody—each spouse would take one—but the wife wanted to keep both.

Before the Court of Queen’s Bench, Saskatchewan’s trial court, the wife proposed what the judge described as “an interim custody” order granting the husband limited visitation rights with the dogs. The wife effectively wanted the judge to treat the dogs as if they were children. The judge said this idea “holds absolutely no attraction for me.” Noting that dogs are “wonderful creatures,” when “all is said and done, a dog is a dog.” Under Saskatchewan law, dogs are property, no different in legal status than, say, furniture. The fact that the parties in this case, who did not have children, had “lavished their natural love and affection on these pets” did not convert the dogs into the legal equivalent of human children.

Illinois Judges Do Not Want to Settle “Pet Visitation” Claims

The law in Illinois is similar to that of Saskatchewan. In fact, in a 2015 case the Illinois First District Appellate Court was asked to deal with a situation like the case described above. A husband asked for court-ordered visitation with the couple’s dogs, who lived with the wife because his apartment complex did not allow pets.

The First District, noting that no Illinois court had previously addressed this issue, said there was no legal authority supporting the idea that courts could order “pet visitation” in a divorce proceeding. The court cited a decision from a New York divorce court that said allowing such claims “would only serve as an invitation for endless post-divorce litigation. (Indeed, the Saskatchewan judge made the same point, noting litigating the custody of pets was “wasteful” of “scarce judicial resources.”)

Mediation May Offer a Better Way

The fact that Illinois courts do not wish to involve themselves in “pet custody” matters underscores the importance of alternative forms of dispute resolution. A qualified mediator can assist divorcing couples in settling a wide variety of issues–including custody and visitation rights with pets–without the need for expensive and time-consuming litigation. If you need to speak with an experienced DuPage County mediation attorney, contact our offices today.