But Who Gets the Pets?

pets, divorce, illinois divorce attorneyThere is no question that we Americans love our pets. According to the ASPCA, as many as 80 million dogs and 96 million cats are owned throughout the country, with many households owning more than one. With so many pet-owners, it is inevitable that many dogs and cats will be caught in the middle of a divorce situation, leaving spouses to wonder what will happen to their furry friends.

Illinois Law Regarding Pets

While the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Acts contains specific provisions for the division of marital property and the care of a couple’s children, the law makes no reference at all to companion animals. While dogs and cats may be treated as full-fledged members of the family, the law officially considers them property, with no more rights than an end table or a piece of artwork. This means that, when left to the court to decide, the court must allocate responsibility for the pet based upon a calculated monetary value and the rest of the marital estate.

Pet Agreements

While the law sees pets as property, to the families that love them, they are much more than that. For this reason, more and more pet-owners are developing creative agreements for their animals in divorce. A pet agreement can allow both spouses to remain a part of their pets’ lives, and to find a resolution that works best for the entire family. Some agreements may choose to have the pets travel back and forth between the parents’ homes with the children. Others may establish a primary home for the dog or cat, with scheduled “visitation” for the other person.

Your pet agreement can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. As long as you and your spouse are willing to work together virtually any arrangement you make can be included in your divorce settlement.

Contact a Lawyer

If you would like more information about any aspect of the divorce process in Illinois, including agreements regarding pets, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. At the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, we are committed to helping individuals and families throughout the region find responsible, workable resolutions to even the most challenging of situations. Call [[phone]] to schedule your introductory consultation at our Aurora office today.





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