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Who gets the pets in a divorce?

If you are getting a divorce in Illinois and you own pets, you may be wondering what will happen to them. According to Forbes, the bottom line when it comes to the law is that pets are considered property. As property, they are distributed the same as any other asset you and your spouse own. Obviously, though, there are additional considerations because dogs and cats are living beings that require care and cannot usually be sold to split the money.

Ideally, you and your spouse should come to an agreement about the custody of any animals. However, this can be difficult in some cases. It is common for one spouse to try to use a dog or cat as leverage, especially if he or she knows his or her spouse cares a lot for the animal. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court usually steps in.

Once the court is involved, there will be inquires made to determine the best home for your pet. When the pet was obtained will be looked at because it could affect ownership. For example, if you bought a dog before you were married and raised it from a pup, you have probably solidified ownership of that animal prior to marriage and will likely get awarded ownership. A court may also look at the pet’s relationship with you and your spouse and with your children, if any. The idea is to put the pet in the place where it will be best cared for. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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