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Who Gets the Dog? Divorce and Pets in Illinois

 Posted on July 17, 2015 in Divorce


Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois divorce laws,As any animal lover will tell you, a pet can be a huge part of the family. So when it comes to divorce, deciding who gets the family pet can lead to major issues. With well over 50 percent of households owning pets in Illinois, it's no surprise that pet custody cases are on the rise. Many pet owners have emotional bonds with their pets, so as divorce rates rise in the United States, it makes sense that cases over pet custody are becoming more common. In Illinois, how do the courts see pets?

As much of a part of the family as a pet can seem, today's court system in Illinois views pets as personal property. While it may be difficult to imagine, due to the fact that Illinois has special rules put in place for pets, your dog or cat is considered a marital asset, like a piece of furniture or a car, that should all be divided evenly. There is also no rule governing pet custody or visitation rights, leading to more and more divorcees seeking out custody agreements themselves through an attorney. Other couples have even created pet prenups, a rising trend in the past few years.

If you do end up before a judge, it is tough to predict the outcome. Due to the lack of laws governing pet disputes, the outcome of the case is in the judge's hands. Most judges treat the cases like a combination of property division and child custody. The court may look at who has a greater emotional bond with the pet, or who does most of the pet's care-taking. If there is a child involved, the judge may favor keeping the pet with the child. Other issues like when the pet was purchased, if one spouse owned the pet before marriage, or ability to care for the pet in the future may be considered as well. Ultimately, due to the lack of laws on this subject, a pet custody case outcome is uncertain.

Owners wishing to avoid the stress of a court case over pet custody have found shared pet custody arrangements successful. If you're bringing a furry friend into your marriage, you may consider a pet prenuptial agreement. These out of court solutions may save you the trouble and stress of fighting for your pet down the road. If you are dealing with a pet custody situation, or a divorce in general, the help of a qualified Wheaton divorce attorney may be necessary. Contact the law offices of Stock, Carlson, Flynn and McGrath, LLC at 630-655-2500 to speak to an attorney.

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