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What Will Happen To Your Pet After Divorce?

What happens if you and your spouse are divorcing, but you both want to keep your pet? This type of complex divorce issue is at the intersection of property ownership and familial relationships. Many layers of emotion involved with who gets the dog or cat after a divorce can make the situation more stressful. Here are some of the issues involved with determining pet custody.

The Legal Definition Of A Pet

Even though many people have deep emotional connections to their pets, legally speaking, a pet is considered personal property. If the divorcing spouses disagree on who should keep their beloved furry family member, the first task is to determine whether the pet is separate or marital property. If one spouse acquired the animal before the marriage or received it as a personal gift during the marriage, it is that spouse’s property. If the pet is marital property, then it is part of the property division process.

Court Considerations

Even though the pet is property, here are some questions the court will ask when considering who should have pet custody:

  • Who is the primary caretaker of the animal?
  • Are there children in the family? If so, do they have a close relationship with the pet?
  • Has there been neglect or abuse of the animal by one of the divorcing spouses?

In some cases, if each person in the couple has a close relationship to the pet, a judge may award visitation rights to the noncustodial pet parent.

Consult Experienced Divorce Attorneys

At the law offices of Majer, Sheen & Piereth, P.C., we help all divorcing couples navigate property division issues, including ones with pets. Our legal skill and knowledge regarding division issues is an asset to your overall divorce settlement strategy. Give us a call at 630-553-7788 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Serving clients in counties throughout Northern Illinois.