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New Illinois Law Decides Custody of Pets When Couples Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce law,  DuPage County divorce attorneys, pet custody, marital property, marital assetsWhen a married couple decides to divorce, they will need to resolve a wide variety of legal issues, including how to divide their marital assets and debts and, if they have children, how to allocate parental responsibility and parenting time. However, one area which is often less recognized but which can still cause contentious disputes is the ownership of pets. Illinois law was recently changed to better address the role that pets often play in modern families.

Pet Ownership Under Illinois Divorce Laws

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), pets fall under the umbrella of marital property, and until recently, they were not treated any differently than other assets a married couple owned, such as furniture, jewelry, cars, or other possessions. However, for many families, treating pets the same as inanimate objects does not feel appropriate, and disputes over who will retain “custody” of pets can be a difficult issue to resolve during divorce.

A change to the IMDMA went into effect on January 1, 2018 which now allows judges in divorce cases to consider the well-being of pets when deciding on their ownership. While pets are still considered property, details about who cares for the pets, including feeding and grooming them, taking them on walks, and taking them to the vet may come into play when determining who can provide for their best interests. A judge may even decide to award joint custody, or shared ownership, of pets to both spouses. Notably, the law only applies to “companion animals,” and service animals are excluded.

State Senator Linda Holmes sponsored this new law, and she has stated that she believes pets should be treated less like property and more like members of a family. With this new law, it is hoped that decisions made during divorce will consider what is in the best interests of animals.

Contact a Wheaton Divorce Lawyer

Disputes over the issues that must be settled during divorce can often become highly contentious, and under the new law, divorcing spouses may worry that they will lose ownership of a beloved pet. If you need help reaching an agreement over the ownership of pets in your divorce, or if you have encountered any other legal issues which need to be resolved, the attorneys of Anderson & Associates, P.C. can help you work toward a satisfactory settlement and advocate for your best interests throughout the divorce process. Contact our DuPage County divorce attorneys at 630-653-9400 to schedule a free consultation.




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