Many Illinois couples believe that their pets are part of the family. However, up until recently, the courts considered them property during a divorce. That changed on Jan. 1 when a law went into effect that treats pets more like children during the divorce.
This means that each party will need to establish which of them would provide a better home for the pet. This means that each party will need to show that he or she handles the majority of the day-to-day caretaking. Even details such as who buys the pet food and who takes the animal to the veterinarian on a regular basis matter.
Illinois appears to have followed the example set by Alaska, which became the first state to make such a change to its family laws in 2017. These laws recognize the fact that many couples choose to delay having children or choose not to have them at all. Instead, they have pets who they view as four-legged children. The emotional attachment that couples form to their pets has caused an increase in court battles during a divorce.
With this new law comes a new set of requirements for pet owners involved in a divorce. Knowing what evidence will best illustrate the level of commitment and care that a party provides for the family pet may be a challenge. In order to make the best case possible, it could be beneficial to enlist the advice and assistance of a family law attorney. In fact, many attorneys are currently reviewing the new law in order to better serve their clients in this capacity.
Source: upi.com, “Illinois law requires ex-couples to prove who’s better pet owner in divorce court“, Ray Downs, Dec. 25, 2017