3030 Salt Creek Lane, Suite 120,
Arlington Heights, IL 60005

Call Us Today for a FREE Initial Consultation


Who Keeps the Pets in an Illinois Divorce?

 Posted on March 27, 2024 in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerAs much as many “pet parents” would like their dogs, cats, and other animals to be regarded like their children during divorce, pets are considered property in Illinois. This means that they are subject to equitable division. The court will try to do what is fair to both spouses when it comes to determining who keeps the pets during a divorce. Our state’s equitable division laws give courts significant freedom to consider a number of factors in deciding what type of arrangement would be the most fair. Most judges will recognize the emotional attachment pet owners have to their furry family members and take this into consideration. Pet parents also have the option of working collaboratively to decide on a visitation plan or to determine who keeps the pets amongst themselves. A Rolling Meadows, IL divorce attorney can help protect your interest in the family pets.

What if I Had My Pet Before I Got Married? 

In this case, there is a strong chance that your pet is considered your separate property. Because pets (as opposed to show animals) rarely add economic value to the marital estate, there is not likely to be any concern about your pet appreciating in value due to your spouse’s contributions or you contributing your pet’s monetary value to the marriage. If you owned a dog before you were married, you are probably going to be able to keep the dog unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Can We Use a Custody and Visitation Schedule for Our Pets? 

Spouses who choose collaborative divorce can more or less divide their assets, including Fido, in any way they please. It is becoming increasingly common for pet owners to create a sort of shared custody arrangement for their animals. If the matter is left to the courts, it is highly unlikely that a court will create a shared custody schedule rather than awarding ownership to one spouse.

What if the Pet is My Emotional Support Animal? 

If your pet is formally and legally established as your personal emotional support animal - meaning you have a letter from a licensed mental health practitioner saying you need the animal - the court will very likely award you ownership. Service dogs and mini-horses will almost invariably remain with their handlers.

Will Our Pets Get Split Up? 

Illinois courts are to do what is fair to the spouses, not what is best for the pets. This may include sending one dog with one spouse and the other dog with the other spouse, even if the dogs have become close.

Contact a Rolling Meadows, IL Divorce Lawyer

Law Offices of Donald J. Cosley is committed to protecting pet lovers during divorce. Experienced Cook County, IL division of marital property attorney Don Cosley will strive to work with you and your spouse to establish a fair arrangement regarding your pets. Contact us at 847-253-3100 for a complimentary consultation.

Share this post:
Back to Top