Pets and Divorce
Legal Aspects of Pets in Divorce
In Illinois, pets are considered personal property and can be part of the marital property that gets divided. This means that they are subject to the same division of assets as other personal property in a divorce, except in deciding who will own the pet after, the court considers the well-being of your pet. The court is also allowed to award joint ownership of pets. In making that decision, the court will consider a number of factors when making a decision about custody of a pet, including:
- The Age and Health of the Pet
The age and health of the pet will be important factors in the court’s decision about who gets the pet after or if the pet parents will share. For example, a young child may not be able to adequately care for an elderly pet. Similarly, a pet with special needs may require a higher level of care than a pet without special needs.
- The Financial Resources of the Spouses
The financial resources of the spouses will also be important factors in the court’s decision. For example, a spouse who is unable to afford the cost of pet food, vet bills, and other pet-related expenses may not be able to provide adequate care for the pet.
- The Emotional Attachments
The emotional attachment of the spouses to the pet is also an important factor in the court’s decision about custody. For example, if one spouse is clearly more attached to the pet than the other, the court may be more likely to award the pet to that spouse. The court may also consider a child’s attachment to the pet, and one pet’s attachment to the other
- The Ability of the Spouses to Provide for the Pet’s Needs
The ability of the spouses to provide for the pet’s needs is also an important factor. For example, if one spouse has a more stable home environment and is better able to provide for the pet’s needs, the court may be more likely to award custody to that spouse.
- The Stability of the Environment in Which the Pet Will Live
The stability of the environment in which the pet will live is also an important factor in the court’s decision. For example, if one spouse has a history of instability or violence, the court may be more likely to award custody to the other spouse.
- Emotional Aspects of Pets in Divorce
Pets can provide companionship, love, and support. They can also help to reduce stress and anxiety. For these reasons, the loss of a pet can be a very difficult experience for someone going through a divorce.
If you are going through a divorce and you have a pet, it is important to be prepared for the emotional challenges that you may face. There are a number of things that you can do to help yourself cope with the loss of your pet, such as:
- Talk to a therapist or counselor
- Join a support group for people who have lost pets
- Spend time with homeless pets or your friend’s pets
- Remember the good times that you had with your pet – and make sure you have your pictures on your phone downloaded
- Tips for Dealing with Pets in Divorce
If you are going through a divorce and you have a pet, there are a few things that you can do to make the process easier:
- Be prepared to discuss the pet with your soon to be ex-spouse.
- If you cannot agree on who will keep the pet, you may need to go to court to make that decision.
- If you are awarded the pet, make sure that you have a plan for its care.
- If you are not awarded ownership of the pet, you can have regular visitation.
- Be respectful of your soon-to-be-ex’es feelings about the pet.
- Remember that the pet is a living creature and it deserves to be treated with love and care.
Pets can be a source of great joy and companionship – and sometimes they inspire lawyers to write a catbot. The cat pictured is my Caveat, who who brings smiles to my face daily, and is the biggest goofball ever. However, when a couple gets divorced, the question of what to do with the pets can be a difficult one, and one I have faced. I love my three cats dearly so I understand that it is important to include your pets in your divorce paperwork. If you are going through a divorce and you have a pet, I can make sure we include your fur child in your paperwork. It is also important to be prepared for the emotional challenges that you may face and let me help you find a way to deal with the legal aspects of it. If you are ready to make that next step, reach out to my office either through my website or by calling me.