Who Gets the DOG/ CAT/ PET in a Divorce?

Pets can be almost like members of the family and many pet owners worry about who will "get custody" of the dog, cat, or other pet in a divorce. In Illinois, pets are viewed as personal property. Ideally, you and your spouse will be able to agree on who takes the pet(s) as you divide your household. If you cannot agree and since a great deal of sentimentality is attached  to a pet (unlike, say - the outdoor grill), a court might have to decide this issue by looking at all of the circumstances. If one of you already had the pet coming into the marriage, then that is who will keep him or her. If Fido/Fluffy was bought during the marriage, then a court might consider the following:

* Practical Considerations: Respective work schedules in terms of caring for the animal (Who will walk the dog?)

* Children's attachment to the pet, if applicable

* Who has done the larger share of caring for the pet in the past

* Living Quarters - Are you trying to move a Great Dane from a big house in the country to an apartment in the city?

If you end up keeping the family pet after a divorce and you know that your ex was attached to the dog or cat- consider allowing him or her to take the pet once in a while - maybe an afternoon at the park. Your animal would enjoy it too. It would be a nice gesture and nice gestures are often repaid with another nice gesture. Even by an ex - you could end up surprised. 

To learn more about divorce, be sure to claim your free book "Defending the Ending". This useful guide will answer frequently asked questions about Illinois divorce and explain the typical process. 

Carol O'Connor Cadiz
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Attorney & Owner at O'Connor Cadiz Law: Injury & Accidents, Disability Insurance.