Pet custody has long been a hot topic among individuals from a split household. Pets become more than just the property they have long been considered, after all, and become integral parts of our family. As of January 1st, 2018, a new law is working to change the way that pets are viewed and divided during the divorce process in Illinois.
Not Just Martial Property
While animals were considered to be marital property and were expected to be divided like all of the other assets during a divorce, animals are now being considered on a more individual basis. They are no longer passive property, in other words, but can now actually be considered as living beings with basic needs and emotional connections. Judges can now take those factors into account and actually award pet custody, or even joint ownership, during a divorce. If the couple in question are unable to determine who should take ownership of the pet in question, judges can now ask questions about the care of the animal and the relationship the animal has with each party before making a final determination.
With that said, the law has not changed that animals are, on a fundamental level, considered property. That means that, like other property, they can be marital or non-marital property and be divided amongst divorce parties accordingly. Questions like where the pet came from, whether it was a gift to one spouse or the other, and whether the pet belonged to one party before the relationship with their spouse even began can all still be used when determining with which party the pet should reside. If the pet was acquired during the marriage, in other words, then its best interests can be taken into account and the judge can decide where it should live. If it is non-marital property, then it goes with the person who is legally recognized as its owner, regardless of who actually cared for the animal on a daily basis.
If you are hoping to maintain custody of your pet, it is a good idea to reach out to an experienced attorney. At Abear Law Offices, we understand how emotional these situations can be. We can help. Contact us today for more information!
Most of us know at least a few people who identify as “pet parents.” In fact, many of us are actually pet parents ourselves. The phrase “pet parents,” in this context, is more than a person or a couple who owns companion animals. Pet parents, in general, do not see the relationship as a master-pet dynamic, opting instead for more of a surrogate child situation—even for those pet parents who actually have children of their own as well. For the most part, being a pet parent is a more serious approach to pet ownership than many are willing undertake but there is nothing inherently wrong with it. But, what happens when pet parents get divorced? Could either party ask the court for visitation rights with their beloved four-legged companion?
If a couple decides to divorce, who gets the dog? It is a very serious question, considering some 80 million households in the United States own pets according to the American Pet Products Association. When a couple separates, can a pet be given split custody between two homes? Will a judge hold a custody hearing on a pet? For most pet owners, dogs and cats are as much a part of the family as any human members, but divorce courts across the country have little to say on the matter, leaving the future of millions of pets caught in the middle of a divorce in jeopardy each year.
The decision to file for divorce can be among the most difficult choices you may ever make. You may have exhausted every option available to try and save your marriage, but ultimately, you realize that you and your partner are better apart. It is no surprise to you that divorce can be stressful, especially trying to negotiate the various considerations necessary under law. As the process moves along, many people find themselves feeling sad and lonely, but you know that as long as you have your dog, you are never really alone — but, wait! How do you know for sure you will still have your dog when the divorce is finalized? Divorce and pets is becoming a more common issue in courtrooms across the country.