Pets and Illinois Divorce
According to Schaumburg, Illinois-based American Veterinary Medical Association, 51.8 percent of Illinois residents are pet owners. For many of these residents, their animal companions are more than pets — they are four-legged family members and are as beloved as children. And like children, deciding who receives custody of the pets in a divorce can become heated.
Obtaining Custody of Pets in Illinois Divorce Illinois Courts consider pets as personal property, no different than bank accounts, vehicles or other household belongings. This means they are just another asset to consider when determining the most equitable way to divide assets. The Court will not conduct a custody hearing, and there will not be “best interests” factors to consider when deciding who should receive the pet. However, there are steps you can take to increase the likelihood that the Judge will award you custody of your pet. Retain copies of all receipts. Because pets are personal property, you must be able to prove a greater ownership interest than your spouse in regards to your pet. Documents showing that the pet was registered in your name, receipts from veterinary bills (especially if paid from your separate property) or other evidence showing as you as the pet’s primary caretaker can help prove that the Court should award you the pet. Prove your ability to care for the pet. Even though pets are property, they are different from a car or bank account — they require active care. Being able to show that you are better able to care for the pet than your spouse may help sway the Court’s decision. Other determining factors which may help prove you are in a better position to care for the pet include your spouse having a job that requires frequent travel, his moving into an apartment or rental home that does not allow pets or evidence of allergies. Agree to a custody schedule. Although the Court will not engage in a custody determination the way it will with children, this does not mean it will not consider a custody arrangement if one or both of the parties present one. For couples with children, it may be helpful to keep the pets on the same visitation schedule as the children. Obtain a pre- or post-marital agreement. Though not an option if you are in the middle of a divorce, either a pre- or post-marital agreement will allow you to address the issue of who will receive the pet in the event of divorce. Palatine Divorce Attorney If you are planning on filing for divorce, or if you have just been served with divorce papers from your spouse, contact Palatine divorce attorney Nicholas W. Richardson today for a free consultation. With more than a decade worth of experience handling divorce and other family law matters, Nicholas W. Richardson understands the complex emotions that can arise and knows when to approach each issue in the spirit of compromise — and when to dig in and fight. Call the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., today to discuss your case.