Pets are creatures of habit. So, divorce is a massive disruption to their established routines. Fortunately, Illinois law recognizes that you treat your pet like your child, not like a marital property.
In 2018, the state’s policymakers included provisions about “companion animals” in the Dissolution of Marriage Act. This law does not cover service animals and pets owned prior to the marriage.
Either pet parent can petition for sole or joint custody. Courts will also consider the best’s interests when deciding pet custody.
Upholding your pet’s best interests
Like a genuine member of the family, the divorce can also have a profound impact on your pet. They witness and endure heated arguments and other emotional dynamics during the divorce.
However, unlike humans, they cannot express their thoughts or emotions verbally. But they are highly attuned to your behavior and react accordingly.
It is up to you and your soon-to-be ex to double your efforts in restructuring your pet’s life without compromising their welfare by:
- Considering which parent your pet is more attached to
- Forming a workable schedule (feeding, walking, bathing)
- Anticipating veterinary check-ups or other health emergencies (medicines, illnesses or death)
- Weighing which house your pet is more familiar with or if they are capable of constantly switching between two households
There may also be multiple pets involved. In that case, issues may become more complex. Parties would rather bring some or all of them to the shelter or for rehoming instead of leaving them uncared for because neither party has sufficient time and resources to maintain several pets.
You and your soon-to-be ex must thoroughly evaluate what works best for your family’s circumstances. After all, you must be on the same page in fiercely fighting for your pet’s quality of life.
Protecting your pet at all costs
Laws are continuously becoming flexible and increasingly reflective of society’s ever-changing needs. To keep your pet protected and the entire process more bearable, you must work with a legal representative who understands how significant pet custody is to you.