What to Know About Creating a Pet Custody Plan

sleeping dog

Dividing up everything in a divorce can be difficult enough, but it can get even more complicated when pets are involved. It is assumed that both members of a couple have bonded with the pet and have formed an attachment to them, so who gets to keep the dog, cat, or bird when this couple goes their separate ways? The formation of a pet custody plan is required, and a Tazewell County marital property division lawyer from our firm can help you make one.

Does the Court Treat Pets Like Children?

For the most part, courts end up treating pets more like property than children. They are looked at like a house, a vehicle, or another piece of property that might be subject to distribution during a divorce agreement. So that also means that pets can be considered marital property or separate property. If you adopted a dog together while you were married, it is likely to be considered marital property and subject to the property distribution process. If you adopted a cat before you were married, it is likely considered separate property so who gets custody is less of a mystery.

However, some states are beginning to acknowledge that pets are not quite the same as property. Illinois is one of them. A recently passed law has changed how pet custody is approached by the courts.

What Does Illinois State Law Say About Pet Custody?

The new law ensures that pets are treated more like children. Their best interests are taken into account when it is decided who the pet will spend time with and when. So instead of being used as a bargaining chip when other property is being split up, the approach to pet custody is now more focused on the needs of the animal.

What Can Help Me Win Pet Custody?

If you want to show that you should have custody of the pet, you should be prepared to show a few things. Any of the following things can work in your favor:

  • You spend the most time with the pet
  • You are responsible for most of the pet’s care
  • You pay most of the pet-related bills
  • You have custody of the kids, and it is in the pet’s best interest to stay with the kids

You can have documentation that shows these things. You can also have people who are willing to testify about how you have taken responsibility for this pet. If you and your home seem like the best option for the pet, you should get custody.

You can also work out a pet custody or visitation plan with your former spouse. If you absolutely cannot come to an agreement, then maybe it would be better for the court to step in.

Talk to a Family Lawyer Today

If you have any more questions about how property is separated in a divorce and how pet custody plans can be negotiated, contact Butler, Giraudo & Meister, P.C. We can help you make a strong case for pet custody.

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