How Are Pets Dealt with in Divorce?

For the very first time in the history of Illinois divorce law, the courts are now mandated by state law to deal with companion animals just as they do with any other property of the divorcing parties.

The soon-to-be ex-spouses may now include language in their Marital Settlement Agreements allocating sole or joint ownership of or responsibility for a companion animal.

If the parties cannot reach such an agreement, the court can hear evidence; and, if it finds that companion animal of the parties is a marital asset, it is mandated to allocate the sole or joint ownership of and responsibility for the companion animal.  In issuing such an Order, the court must take into consideration the well-being of the animal.

In addition to the foregoing, either party may now petition the court for temporary sole or joint possession of and responsibility for a companion animal WHILE the case is still pending. In this instance, the animal must be jointly owned by the parties.

This law does not apply to service animals.

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Richard and Kari are staunch advocates of the non-court approach to divorce, and are also active and seasoned litigators with over 70 years of combined trial experience in the Illinois divorce courts of Cook, DuPage, and Will counties.