Who Gets to Keep the Pet After a Divorce?

dog on bed wearing sunglasses

Most divorces are difficult, but one can be especially hard to navigate when you have pets together as a couple. Who gets custody of the pets when a couple separates? That can depend on a few different factors, but a Morton divorce lawyer from our firm can help you make the best possible argument for why a pet should remain in your care.

Are Pets Considered Property in a Divorce?

For the most part, pets are looked at as property in a divorce. Recent adjustments to Illinois state law have changed this a little bit though. Now a court can assess both households and consider the “well-being” of the pet and where they could be better off. This means that deciding on pet custody is more like deciding on child custody now. Before this, the process was more like deciding who would get a car or another piece of property.

Speaking of property, it is important to note that the concepts of separate and marital property can also apply when we are talking about pet custody. If you own a pet before you get married, it is likely that your furry friend will be considered separate property and not something that needs its custody decided during a divorce. Your pet was with you before the marriage and will be after it ends. The complication arises when a dog or cat is acquired during the marriage, making it marital property.

How Can I Show That a Pet Should Stay With Me?

When the animal is considered marital property, it can be a bit harder to figure out who it should go with. As we mentioned, its well-being is going to be considered, but how do you prove that you are going to be their best caretaker and thus the best for their well-being? There are a few ways to do this. Some steps that we recommend include:

  • Keeping receipts that show you are the primary caretaker for the animal
  • Having witnesses testify that you are the one who is most often responsible for your family’s pet
  • Showing that your job allows you to spend more time with the pet than your spouse

Any of these things can help you bolster your case for pet custody. Just be aware that these are not the only factors being considered. The court may also look at:

  • Each spouse’s living arrangements
  • The financial situation of both spouses
  • Who has custody of the children

In some cases, pet custody can also be given to the same spouse who has custody of the children because the kids are likely to have a strong bond with the animal. This arrangement can be considered to be in the best interest of the children and the pet.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer Today

Your pet is important to you. They are more than just another asset in your divorce. So if you need to fight for pet custody, make sure that you have an accomplished attorney on your side. Contact Butler, Giraudo & Meister, P.C. and schedule a consultation. We can tell you more about how we can help you with your case.

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