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How does Illinois treat pets in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2021 | Divorce

In most states, the court only considers pets as property in a divorce during property division. Despite them being living things, the court does not set visitation or treat them any different than other property you own.

According to the DuPage County Bar Association, Illinois is different when it comes to the treatment of pets in a divorce.

Living creatures

Illinois law recognizes pets as living creatures who require more consideration than general property. The law gives the court the ability to consider pets more like it does children.

The specifics

Courts can award custody of pets. They can make orders about protection for pets to prevent a party from giving away a pet or taking it from the possession of another party. For example, if the court gives you custody or ownership of the family dog and it issues an order that your former spouse can have no contact with the pet, it would be a violation for your former spouse to come to your home and take the pet.

The court can also award joint ownership or custody just as it would with children. This may require visitation arrangements.

Best interests

Just as with child custody cases, the court will consider what is best for the pet. It will likely look into general care and the history with the pet to see with whom it would be best off living.

Not all animals

It is important to note that the court will not treat all animals in this way. The law specifies the new requirements and guidelines are only for companion animals. The law defines companion animals as one which you consider a pet. It is rather vague and the court can interpret it as it wants.