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HomeBlogDivorceWho Keeps the Pets During a Divorce?

Who Keeps the Pets During a Divorce?

If you are going through a divorce, you have a lot on your mind, and while your parental rights and financial rights are certainly among them, you may also have concerns about whether or not you’ll be able to keep your pets. If both you and your divorcing spouse are interested in keeping your pets post-divorce, discuss your concerns with an experienced Chicago divorce attorney today. 

In Illinois

Illinois is not one of the several states that takes an enlightened view about pets and considers them members of the family, though the courts still consider them similar to property. In Illinois, pets are addressed in terms of your marital property, and their fate is determined in the division of your marital property. While this is certainly not the way you think of your pets, it is important to have a feel for the court’s legal stance on the matter. 

Negotiations Between Yourselves

When it comes to a matter that is as personal as your pets, the court would prefer that you attempt to resolve and negotiate between yourselves. This means that if you and your divorcing spouse can work out a mutually acceptable plan regarding your pets, you should do so. Whether you swap your pets back and forth, you divide them between you, or you come up with any other compromise, you have the right to resolve the matter in any way you both see fit. If you can’t find a middle ground – after giving it your best effort – however, you will need the court to intervene. 

The Court’s Decision-Making Process

The court recognizes how emotionally charged divorce can be and understands the significance of your pets in your life. As such, it does its best to resolve pet concerns fairly. All the following factors can guide the court’s decision-making process as it relates to pet custody:

  • If the pet in question was yours – or your spouse’s – prior to marriage, the court will very likely assign the pet to that spouse. 
  • If the pet in question was gifted to you during your marriage, the same is also true. 
  • If either of you moves out of your family home while your divorce is pending and leaves the pet in question behind, it can weaken that spouse’s argument for keeping the pet post-divorce. 
  • If you have a stronger bond with the pet in question than your spouse does – or vice versa – this fact will not be lost on the court. 
  • The matter of your children will also factor into the equation. For example, if you are remaining in the family home with your children – and they are especially close to your family pets – this is very likely to influence the court’s decision. 

An Experienced Chicago Divorce Attorney Can Help

The compassionate Chicago divorce attorneys at WARD FAMILY LAW recognize how important your pets are to you and are well-positioned to skillfully advocate for a favorable resolution to your pet custody dilemma. To learn more about how we may be able to help, please don’t wait to contact us today.

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