Who gets the pets in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2021 | High-Asset Divorce |

Illinois residents who’re going through a divorce must handle a lot of pressing questions regarding property and joint assets. But one of the most pressing of all questions that couples must answer is who gets the pet.

Pets are beloved family members, regardless of the other aspects of a family. Many couples adopt dogs, cats and other animals.

Unlike children though, pets don’t get to tell their owners where they want to go. And it’s rare that the court treats pet custody the same way that they would treat child custody.

How are pets treated in court?

Usually, courts will treat animals like marital property. This means there’s a lot of uncertainty as to what the court will order if a family pet gets dragged into court.

Some courts will order that the dog be sold and the profits are split between the two pet owners. With any other form of property, this would be an acceptable solution, but with family pets, it’s usually the last thing pet owners want to happen.

Sometimes the judge is sympathetic and visitation agreements can be worked out in court. Alternatively, they might be too strict for pet parents to follow.

How to negotiate custody

Some couples try to negotiate custody of their pet before getting lawyers involved, due to the uncertainty of what will happen in court. This can reduce the costs of getting a divorce as well as make it easier for the owners.

Ultimately, the pet owners love their pet more than anything which is what inspires a lot of people going through a divorce to work it out outside of the courtroom. It’s always good to communicate openly with your partner before lawyers are involved to figure out what’s best for the pet and you both.