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What Happens to Pets in a Divorce?
27 Sep, 2022
Divorce

What Happens to Pets in a Divorce?

Divorce is one of life’s more challenging transitions, and many people going through this tumultuous event look to their pets for the solace and companionship they need. If you’re going through a divorce, however, you may be concerned about what will happen to your pets moving forward – especially if your divorcing spouse is just as enamored of your family pets as you are. If you have a concern related to pets and divorce, don’t wait to reach out to an experienced Illinois divorce attorney for the help you’re looking for. 

Pets and the Division of Marital Property

Many states take a more evolved view of pets and take the relationship they have with their owners into consideration, but Illinois is not one of these states. In Illinois, pets are viewed as property, and if the issue of pets comes in on your divorce, it will be settled right along with the division of your marital property. While this can be difficult for loving pet owners to grasp, it is how Illinois law addresses the issue, and you will need to move forward within this context. 

Finding Common Ground

If you and your soon-to-be-ex are both interested in keeping your pets and you are able to negotiate terms that you both find acceptable, the matter of your pets is resolved, and you will not require a ruling from the court. Only if you and your divorcing spouse have reached an impasse and you both want to keep your pets in your respective homes will you need the court to weigh in on the matter of what happens to your pets in divorce. 

The Court’s Stance

The court’s basic position when it comes to the matter of pets and divorce is that it’s a highly personal matter that should be resolved between the involved parties. Divorce, however, is highly charged, and because our pets play enriching and important roles in our lives, the issue of pets and divorce does arise. As such, the court looks to the following factors in its decision-making process:

  • If the pet came with you or your spouse into the marriage, the court will likely consider the pet that spouse’s separate property. The same is true if one of you received the pet as a gift during your marriage. 
  • If either you or your spouse moved out of your home and left the pet while your divorce was pending, it can weaken that spouse’s claim on the pet. 
  • If one of you has a more significant and closer relationship with the pet than the other, the court is likely to take this into consideration. 

Pet matters are generally left until the end of divorce cases – in the hope that both parties will resolve the issue between themselves. 

It’s Time to Consult with an Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorney

The seasoned Schaumburg family law attorneys at SLG Family Law are well-prepared to help you resolve your divorce-related pet concern as favorably and efficiently as possible. To learn more, please don’t wait to contact us today.   

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