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Who Will Get Ownership of Pets in a Divorce?

If you have a pet that you are close to, you know how important that companionship and unconditional love can be. If you’re going through a divorce, your pet may play an even bigger role in your life. The fact is that divorce is extremely stressful, and your pets can go a long way toward providing you with comfort during this difficult transition. The question of who will get ownership of pets in a divorce can be an important one that an experienced Chicago divorce attorney can help you answer. 

Your Pets Are Important to You

Your pets are important to you, and you probably think of them more like members of your family than as property that you own. In the State of Illinois, the law is beginning to think along these same lines. Pets used to be divided between divorcing spouses as if they were property. As such, if the court granted ownership of your family dog to your ex, it meant you had no legal recourse. 

In essence, your dog was your ex’s property, and you had no right to ask to see or spend time with your beloved pet. In 2018, a new law was passed that amended past property division statutes, and as a result, courts now allow more room for compromises when it comes to a divorcing couple’s pets. Under the new law, the following apply:

  • Both owners have the right to ask for joint custody of their shared pets. 
  • The court can grant either sole or joint custody of each pet. 

In making pet custody decisions, the judge is expected to consider who has traditionally provided most of the caregiving for the pet and to factor the animal’s best interests into the equation. The law only applies to those pets that were acquired during the course of one’s marriage. If either of you brought a pet into your marriage with you, or if either of you has a service animal, that animal will remain with the original owner. 

Your Pet’s Unique Needs

Some pets are quite easygoing and have no difficulty going back and forth between homes, which can make a shared custody situation a great option. Others, however, require more stability and do not cope well with being moved back and forth. Ultimately, you want to do what’s best for your pet, which can mean allowing your pet to live with one of you post-divorce while the other one of you becomes the pet sitter (for example). The bottom line is that the law is beginning to catch up with the reality of pet ownership and with what our animals actually mean to us. 

An Experienced Chicago Divorce Lawyer Can Help

If you are wondering who will get ownership of your pets in divorce, a compassionate Chicago divorce attorney may be able to help. At Arami Law, we understand how important your pets are to you, and we are committed to helping you find a solution that works for you and your beloved pets. For more information, please don’t wait to contact us today.

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