Pets are often considered to be part of the family. When talking about the kids, the family dog is included as a part of the discussion; when purchasing Christmas presents, this fluffy bundle of love receives his or her fair share. For this reason, when it comes to an Illinois couple's divorce, the family pet can become a point of controversy throughout property division negotiations.
If the family pet was owned by either the husband or wife prior to the marriage, the issue is typically less complicated. In the majority of circumstances, the pet is not considered marital property and would not necessarily be a part of the negotiation. However, things are not so clear cut if the beloved pet was purchased with marital assets.
In many instances, it is in the couple's best interest to attempt to work out an agreement without court involvement. The decision as to who will keep the pet often hinges on where the children will be and who is able to afford the pet's care and expenses. If the couple plans to share the pet, a detailed agreement regarding when the pet will spend time with each individual and who will pay for what expenses is often beneficial.
The state of Illinois has recognized that pets are an important part of the family. As such, the judge in the case has the authority to grant joint or sole custody of the pet. Rather than the beloved pet being treated as just another asset in the property division process, his or her best interest is also taken into consideration.
Source: hometownlife.com, "Pets increasingly becoming divorce battleground", Susan Peck, March 27, 2018