Who Gets the Pet When Partners Separate?

When you married your partner, you joined your lives together. You may have purchased a home together, started a joint business venture, or even had children. You may have also shared a family pet. Now that you are separating, you have many stressors, including dividing up your joint assets. While you are attempting to determine who gets the house, along with child custody agreements, you may also be anxious about who will get to keep the family pet.

Pet owners can fight fiercely for the rights to keep the family pet, and Illinois recently passed a law that makes it a bit easier to determine who gets to keep the pet. In a new law that took effect on January 1, 2018, judges can now take the animal’s well being into consideration when choosing a permanent home.

The Illinois law is similar to one already in place in Alaska, and pertains to companion pets, not service animals. These companion pets could be the family dog, cat, or other animal that is not used for service purposes.

Most couples are able to work together to determine a permanent home for the family pet upon separation. In fact, there has been a 30% decrease in court cases dealing with pet decisions over the past three years. However, it is helpful to now have a law that details the consideration of the pet’s well-being if the matter does reach the inside of a courtroom.

The new 2018 law treats family pets as more than just shared property. While not quite a child, a family pet is certainly an important part of the lives of everyone in the household. A separation should take that bond into account and judges should consider it accordingly.

Are you separated or in the middle of a divorce? The team at Gandhi Selim Law has decades of experience advocating for clients in situations just like yours. Our team knows the ins and outs of Illinois law and is ready to get you the best outcome possible. Give us a call to set up your free consultation today.