Archive for the ‘Pet Custody’ Category

Determining Pet Custody in a Divorce

March 17th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

pet custody, divorce, Chicago divorce attorneysWhen a couple opts to end their marriage through divorce, the next step is to work with the court to divide their property and determine custody and support arrangements for their children if they have any. Today, however, as beloved pets are often considered to be a part of the family, many couples express concerns about custody of their companion animals following their divorces. 

Legally, pets are personal property in Illinois. Emotional attachment does not preclude domestic pets such as cats and dogs from being included in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act as items to divide during a divorce proceeding.

However, some couples choose to negotiate their own pet custody agreements. These are not necessarily enforceable in court, but can give the couple an outline to work with regarding their pet’s care after their divorce. When the spouses do not have such an amicable relationship but both want to retain custody of their pet, each partner may need to argue their fitness to keep the pet to the court.

Proving Your Fitness to Keep Your Pet

You might have to prove your fitness as a pet owner to have your pet’s custody awarded to you during your divorce. Some of the ways you can do this are:

  • Showing your financial investment in the pet through receipts for its veterinary bills, food costs, and any other pet bills like grooming services or obedience classes.
  • Demonstrating to the court that your home is better suited for a pet than your former partner’s. This may be because you have a large yard for the pet to roam or your former partner’s apartment does not allow pets.
  • Proving your bond with the pet through activities such as hunting or agility competitions.

Your attorney can help you develop a strong case for having your pet after a divorce. If you are your children’s custodial parent, this may also help your case for keeping your pet.

Sharing Pet Custody

With no law that outlines pet custody in Illinois, some couples choose to develop shared pet custody arrangements. In many cases, these arrangements are modeled on the couple’s child custody arrangement – wherever the children go, the pet goes. Talk to your spouse about this option and determine if setting up a visitation schedule could be a viable choice for your situation.

Although they can not speak or express themselves the way humans can, animals feel tension and stress during a divorce. No matter what you and your spouse decide, it is important for your pet’s health that you do all you can to minimize the stress that he or she is put through during the divorce process.

Divorce Attorneys in Chicago

If you are considering ending your marriage or you are currently working through the divorce process, contact the skilled Chicago divorce attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. at 312-345-9999 or online for your initial legal consultation with our firm. We have five convenient offices in the Chicago area: Northbrook, Wheaton, Orland Park, Schaumburg, and downtown Chicago.