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Illinois Changes How "Pet Custody" is Determined in a Divorce

 Posted on January 05, 2018 in Divorce

Wheaton divorce lawyersThe percentage of couples who have decided to forgo having children has increased dramatically in the last several years. Yet, because some of them still crave the nurturing aspect of parenting, many decide to adopt a pet. In such situations, the animal often becomes more like another member of the family than an animal that is owned. Unfortunately, some of those same animals have been ripped from the owner that cherished them (and worse) during divorce proceedings. That is because, in the past, pets have been treated more like a piece of furniture - an asset that cannot be divided - than a living being. Thankfully, a new law is changing that. Learn more, including how an experienced divorce attorney can assist in your divorce case.

Animals as Assets - How the Old Law Affected Divorcing Parties and Their Pets

Pets are just like any other animal - they develop bonds to the people that train them, play with them, and give them affection. Yet, in divorce, the ownership of a pet was often determined by looking at who covered the financial aspects of ownership, such as vet visits, immunizations, and adoption fees. In some instances, this resulted in a pet being taken from the owner that had the bond. Tragic cases in which the pet was then abused, neglected, abandoned, or surrendered to a shelter also occurred - often without the loving owner's knowledge or consent.

In short, the welfare of pets could be compromised under the old law. Vengeful spouses and abusive spouses that controlled the financial aspects of the marriage could use pets as a pawn in the divorce, perhaps to punish their spouse or to simply attempt to get more in the divorce settlement. Illinois saw how this was affecting pets and their owners, so they decided to do something about it; they changed how pet custody is determined in divorce.

Animals as Living Beings - How the New Law Improves Circumstances for Pets

Starting January 1, 2018, Illinois changed how pet custody is determined in divorce. Instead of focusing only on the financial aspects of pet ownership when deciding where the pet should live, judges can now consider the best interests of the animal. Factors like who trained the pet, who walks and feeds them, and who takes the animal to their vet visits (instead of just who pays for it) may all be considered. Additionally, judges can consider joint ownership and visitation schedules in situations where both pet owners have a loving bond with the animal.

Contact Our Wheaton Divorce Attorneys

If you are planning on filing for divorce and have a pet, contact Stock, Carlson & Asso. LLC for legal assistance. Dedicated to protecting your rights and the best interest of your beloved companion, our Wheaton divorce attorneys can aggressively pursue the most favorable outcome possible in your case. Call 630-665-2500 for your personalized consultation.


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