What Happens to Pets in an Illinois Divorce?

IL divorce lawyerWhen getting a divorce, couples have a lot to think about. They will likely wonder what will happen to their car, to the marital home, and other assets. One factor that is often overlooked though, is the family pet. If the pet was acquired during the marriage, it is considered marital property. So, when this is the case, what happens to the pets in an Illinois divorce?

Pets According to Property Division Rules

In many cases, the courts may choose to include the pet in property division hearings. This means it will be treated just like other property. Illinois is an equitable distribution state. That means that property is divided fairly, although not necessarily equally. Of course, a pet cannot be divided, leaving many couples again wondering what will happen to it in a divorce.

If one of the spouses really wants to keep the pet and both spouses can agree, the courts may grant ownership to the spouse that wants to keep the animal. In exchange, the courts will also likely grant the other spouse a greater portion of other property or assets, in order to keep property division hearings fair.

Pets According to Child Custody Rules

In some cases, the courts may use the rules of child custody to determine who gets to keep ownership of the pet. In these cases, the court will consider both the physical and emotional well-being of the pet when deciding on ownership, just as they would with a child.

For example, the courts may consider a spouse that works 14 hours a day as not being able to properly care for the pet, walk it, and provide it with the companionship it needs. As such, the court may award ownership to the other spouse that works shorter hours. In this instance, the animal is still considered property by the state and so, the other spouse may still be awarded more in property division.

In some cases, a judge may even award joint custody to the couple. This is typically done in cases where both spouses want ownership of the pet, and they are both equally able to care for the animal.

Joint custody for pets is determined largely the same way it is for children. A decision is made on when each spouse will spend time with the animal, and which spouse will be responsible for providing what for the animal. For example, one spouse may offer to get the animal vaccinated while another agrees to purchase the crate it will travel in.

Our Illinois Family Lawyers Can Help with All Aspects of Your Divorce

If you are getting a divorce, our Hinsdale family lawyers can help. There are many issues you will have to consider, and they are not all always so obvious upfront. We will think of all terms related to your specific case and help you through them. To get the best possible outcome during your divorce, call the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio today at 630-920-8855 to schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys.




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