Who Keeps the Family Pets After a Divorce?

HomeBlogChild CustodyWho Keeps the Family Pets After a Divorce?

If you are considering a divorce or have already begun the process, you’ve likely got a lot on your mind. Which parent will your kids reside with? Who will keep the family home? What about the timeshare or the boat? However, if you own a family pet, you might not have thought about their disposition after the divorce. 

For some spouses, pets are like kids. Thinking about living life without them after a divorce can be an overwhelming proposition. Some couples are able to successfully divide millions of dollars in assets and investments but reach a stalemate over the family pet(s). How can this be? As an experienced Illinois divorce attorney will tell you, it’s because spouses form emotional attachments to family pets. These pets play a central role in their lives.

Determining Pet Custody

Before you let your emotions make your decision or guide your negotiations, think about what is in the pet’s best interest. Consider these questions:

  • Will one spouse stay in the family home that already has the dog run or fenced back yard, and the other is relocating to a small apartment with little or no yard?
  • Does your dog or cat have animal friends in its current neighborhood?
  • Is one spouse moving overseas after the divorce? Keep in mind that quarantine requirements and local regulations may make it challenging, if not impossible, to bring Fido along.
  • Who is the pet’s primary caretaker? Who takes the pets to the vet, purchases their food and supplies, walks them, cleans up after them, and typically spends the most time with the pets? 

As hard as it might be to set your own emotional attachment aside, attempt to look at this situation from your pet’s point of view. Put your own feelings aside for just a moment and consider what is really in your pet’s best interest. Discussing the details of the situation with your Illinois divorce lawyer can often help provide some clarity.

When Pet Parents Can’t Agree

If you and your spouse can’t negotiate a plan for who should get the family pet, the court will be forced to decide. Illinois family courts generally treat pets like possessions. Suppose one spouse owned the family pet before the marriage. In that case, that spouse would likely get to keep the pet. The court might also take into account what is best for the pet. For example, if one spouse frequently travels for work and the other is a stay-at-home parent, the court might side with the latter. If you want to keep your pet after the divorce, having an experienced Illinois divorce attorney is crucial.

Need Help Keeping Your Pet in a Divorce? Call a Skilled Illinois Divorce Attorney

Some people can’t imagine living without their furry best friend after a divorce. If you are one of them, an Illinois divorce lawyer from the Goodman Law Firm can help you fight this battle. Take the first step in getting the legal help you need by contacting us today to schedule your private divorce consultation.


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