Who gets the dog in a Chicago divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2023 | Firm News |

Every young couple in Chicago has at least considered adopting a pet together. Newlyweds might buy a puppy together, thinking they’ll raise it together for the rest of their lives.

However, what happens to the puppy if you and your spouse decide to split? The court will spend hours upon hours debating what home is the best for human children in a divorce, but pets are handled differently.

The difference between pets and children in divorce

Pet owners often think of their dogs or cats as their children – and in many aspects, raising a puppy or other animal can take as much time and commitment. In the court of law, though, a pet is considered property.

The pet is considered a joint purchase – or investment – that the couple made during their marriage. This means that either the couple will figure out who gets custody of the dog on their own, or the court will find a way to split the investment between the two equitably.

How the court makes decisions regarding dogs

If there is proof beyond a reason of doubt that the animal will be better in one home than the other, the court might make a clear decision. While the animal is considered property, it’s a living being that needs to be taken care of.

The judge might say that Spouse A is rewarded with full custody of the dog if they pay Spouse B half of the adoption costs and other investments they made. Or – at worst – the judge might say the dog should be sold or surrendered if the couple can’t.

ThereThere’st of incentive to decide on your own, outside of the courtroom. You want to create a stable home for your dog sooner rather than later.