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Illinois now treats pet custody the same as child custody

With the New Year came various new laws across the country. Illinois couples who are considering divorce might have been concerned about the fate of family pets. In many households, pets are considered as part of the family, and it could be as traumatic to be cut off from pets as it would be not to have contact with their children. Fortunately, lawmakers have recognized this, and as from Jan. 1, 2019, Illinois family laws will no longer treat pets, as assets to be subject to the property division process.

Couples can now negotiate pet custody in the same way as child custody -- for the court's approval -- or petition the court to award joint custody or shared custody. While some courts have been accommodating in recent years, judges will now have clear guidance when it comes to decisions about granting pet custody to one or both spouses. Matters that will feature in their considerations will include the pet parent who provides day-to-day care and who pays for food, vaccinations, and other veterinary or care expenses.

Those who advocated for the new law say one factor that has brought about the acceptance of pets as family members are the increased number of two-income couples who are childless, although many families with children have the same love for their pets. However, there is an exception for service animals. In cases that involve service animals, the court will award pet custody to the person to whom the pet provides a service.

Illinois families in the throes of divorce might find comfort in the fact that beloved pets will continue to be a part of their lives after their divorces are finalized. An experienced family law attorney can answer any questions about the new pet custody laws. A lawyer can also assist during negotiations about child custody, "parenting time" with pets and the finances related to the care of pets.

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Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.
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Belleville, IL 62220

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