Many Illinois families have pets. In some of those families, the pets are more like children since many couples are either waiting to have children or have elected not to have them. When the marriage ends in divorce, the fate of the family pet often hangs in the balance.
Most states continue to view pets as property. Since you cannot exactly split a pet, and many couples refuse to sell a beloved animal, the process of figuring out which party receives the family pet can become an intense court battle. Even then, even if a judge is sensitive to a couple’s plight, he or she may only make decisions in accordance with the law.
Fortunately, Illinois couples may come up with their own custody agreement of sorts when it comes to the family pet. In fact, many do just that. If there are children involved, the pet may stay with them and even move between homes for visitation with the other parent. When there are no children, couples can agree to a custody arrangement that gives each of them time with the pet. Of course, the pet will also need to be considered in the equation since splitting time between residences can be an upsetting, confusing and frightening experience.
Determining what is best for a pet in a divorce may require a substantial amount of consideration. Unlike children, they cannot voice their concerns, fears and problems. It may take some creative thinking and patience in order to come up with an arrangement that benefits everyone involved, including the pet. Once an agreement is reached, it will need to be presented to the court for approval — often as part of a larger settlement agreement.