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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
678-208-9200Available 24/7

Pets and Divorce in Illinois

 Posted on October 02, 2018 in Pet Custody

Lombard divorce and pets attorneyTo animal lovers across the country, pets are an important part of their family. Many go so far as seeing their pet as another child to take care of. This is especially common in marriages without children. Strong feelings toward pets can make some divorce cases even more difficult than they already are, and changing attitudes toward animals and updates to divorce laws have added new factors for couples and courts to consider during divorce.

A Shift in Priorities

Over time, pets have become a staple in American homes, with many homes having two or three dogs or cats running around. The family pet has now become more than just another mouth to feed, but a full-fledged member of the family. This is evident in the sharp rise of money spent on animals each year. The pet industry has seen exponential growth over the last 30 years, increasing from a total of $17 billion in 1994 to an estimated $72 billion in 2018 alone. This increase in spending is more than just a result of higher prices. It is a reflection of the shift in attitude regarding household priorities in America.

More Than Property

In past divorce cases, pets used to be considered marital property. However, it is much more difficult to divide up a living animal in than it is to divide something like a living room set, especially for those who consider themselves “pet parents.” As part of a reflection of changing attitudes, the laws in Illinois have recently changed, and certain factors must be considered when divorcing spouses cannot come to an agreement over the pet’s permanent residence. 

Rather than simply assigning the pet to one party like another piece of property, Illinois law now instructs judges to treat the animals in a similar manner to children, and their decisions should be based on what is best for an animal’s well-being. Judges may consider factors such as who the pet’s primary caretaker is and who spends the most money in regards to food and veterinarian visits. This change to the law went into effect at the beginning of 2018. 

Contact a DuPage County Pet Custody Attorney

For those going through a divorce, an experienced attorney is crucial, no matter the circumstances. If you and your spouse are at odds regarding the family pet, our Oak Brook divorce lawyers can advocate for your beloved animal’s best interests. Our attorneys have experience working with couples to resolve a wide variety of divorce issues, and we will work to help you reach an agreement that meets your family’s needs. Contact Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. at 630-472-9700 to schedule a free consultation.


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