Pets and Divorce

April 24, 2023

Pets are more than just property in Illinois. They’re considered family members, and their well-being matters in divorce proceedings. But what does that mean for you and your pet if you’re facing separation or divorce?

Pets Aren’t Furniture: Illinois Law Considers Their Well-being

Unlike most states that treat pets as simple possessions, Illinois courts recognize their emotional value. While pet are technically considered personal property, a judge will consider the pet’s well-being when deciding who gets them or if they’ll be shared.

The Factors to Consider 

  • Age and Health of the Pet: Is one person better equipped to care for an elderly or special-needs pet?
  • Financial Resources: Can both people afford food, vet care, and other expenses?
  • Emotional Bonds: Who is the primary caretaker? Which person has the strongest emotional connection with the pet? What about the children’s attachments?
  • Living Environment: Which home offers the most stability and suitable living conditions for the pet?
  • The Pet’s Needs: Some pets thrive with routine and might do better in one household over another.

The Emotional Toll of Pets and Divorce

Losing a pet during divorce can be heartbreaking. Pets offer companionship, unconditional love, and emotional support, so their absence is deeply felt. If you’re struggling, consider:

  • Therapy or Counseling: Talk to a professional about your feelings.
  • Support Groups: Connect with others who understand your loss.
  • Pet-Friendly Activities: Spend time with friends’ pets or volunteer at an animal shelter.

Tips for Navigating Pet Custody

  • Open Communication: Try to discuss your pet’s future with your spouse amicably.
  • Mediation: A neutral third party can help you reach an agreement outside of court.
  • Legal Counsel: If you can’t agree, an attorney can advocate for your pet’s best interests and your rights.

Remember, your pet deserves to be happy and well-cared for during and after your divorce. By considering their needs and seeking professional guidance if necessary, you can create a positive outcome for everyone involved.

Facing a Divorce with Pets in Illinois? I’m Here to Help


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 want to discuss your pets and your divorce, 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.


Disclaimer: This blog post aims to educate, not provide legal advice. The information shared here is not exhaustive and may not apply to your specific situation. Always seek professional legal counsel for individualized guidance.