Insight

Illinois’ Pet Owners Can Now Seek Custody of Their Pets in Divorce Proceedings

PA 100-0422 now requires a divorce judge to award one party or the other possession of and responsibility for the family pet or pets based upon a careful consideration of the animal’s “well-being.”

Pet Custody in Divorces
WL

Weiler & Lengle

December 1, 2017 11:02 AM

Effective January 1, 2018, Illinois residents involved in divorce proceedings can now formally ask their divorce court judge to award them “custody” of their pets. This new, ground-breaking legislation became law as Public Act 100-0422. The full text of the law can be found at www.ilga.gov, but enactment of the law creates a major new right for all divorcing pet owners.

Previously, Illinois considered pets as property, and it was not possible to seek “custody” of a beloved family pet in a divorce.

PA 100-0422 now requires a divorce judge to award one party or the other possession of and responsibility for the family pet or pets based upon a careful consideration of the animal’s “well-being.”

There are, of course, several requirements that must be met before a request for possession and responsibility for your pet must be decided by the Court based upon the animal’s well-being. First of all, the law broadly applies to all “companion animals,” not just the family dog or cat.

The new statute expansively defines a “companion animal” by only excluding service animals from the law’s reach. Service animals are animals trained to assist persons with a disability, so the new law applies broadly to any type of pet or animal companion.

Secondly, the animal in question is required to be a marital asset, essentially meaning that the animal was acquired after the marriage of the parties. Many animals may have documentary ownership or breeding documents in the name of one party or the other; however, the only requirement to seek possession and responsibility is that the animal be an asset of the marriage. If the pet is an asset of the marriage, the Court must allocate possession and responsibility upon request of a party, and that allocation must be based upon the court’s consideration of the animal’s well-being.

The new law also has a provision that will allow divorcing parties to enter into agreements as to possession of and responsibility for family pets, granting the Court authority to enter temporary orders for the temporary possession of and responsibility for companion animals while the divorce is pending.

This exciting new law represents a quantum leap forward in the law and provides welcome comfort to pet and animal owners who find themselves enmeshed in a divorce. As pet owners, the partners of Weiler & Lengle understand the important place our pets hold in our families and hearts. We are here to answer your questions and assist you in securing the best possible outcome for you, your children, and now your animal kingdom family members as well.

---------------------

Timothy E. Weiler concentrates his practice in family law and is a frequent author and lecturer to lawyers on family law topics. Most recently he presented to lawyers on Illinois’ new child support law. He can be reached by calling 630-587-5600 or emailing tweiler@weilerlengle.com.


Related Articles

Crossing the Line


by Joseph Trotti

Divorce can be difficult, complicated and emotionally exhausting. Divorcing across state lines ups the jurisdictional complexity significantly.

Jurisdiction and Divorce Across State Lines

Trouble at Home


by Brittney M. Miller and James J. Vedder

Decisions about custody and parenting time after a separation or divorce are never simple. Family violence of any kind makes the process all the more complex—and the victim isn’t always the beneficiary.

How Domestic Violence Complicates Custody

My Lawyer Failed Me as an Advocate in My Parents’ Divorce


by Rebecca Rush

Here’s how to ensure your children are respected during a custody battle.

Representing Children in a Divorce

Split Decisions


by Jonathan Merel

Divorce is inevitably fraught with a torrent of emotions on both sides. Don’t let this occlude your ability to plan rationally and dispassionately to ensure as smooth a process as possible. Here are five common pitfalls to avoid.

Two people standing on either side of a heart made out of curving roads

What If Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Had a Premarital Agreement?


by John M. Goralka

Oh, the gritty details we’re learning from the latest court battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. This unfortunate airing of dirty laundry may have been avoided with a prenup. Should you think about getting one yourself?

What If Johnny Depp & Amber Heard Had Prenup?

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers: Family Law Publication


by Best Lawyers

Featuring the top legal talent in Family Law and Trusts & Estates.

Announcing Best Lawyers Family Law 2022

Midwest In the Law


by Gregory Sirico

We examine five court cases that are ongoing in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota and Indiana.

A Look at Court Cases in the Midwest

The Best Lawyers in the Midwest


by Best Lawyers

Our 2022 Best Lawyers in the Midwest Digital publication features top-ranked legal talent, including Best Lawyers and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America throughout six Midwest states.

The Best Lawyers in the Midwest

Prenuptial Peril


by Laura Wheatman Hill

Prenups aren’t always bulletproof, but there’s hope if you end up exposed in a divorce.

Why Your Prenup Might Not Save You

My Husband Didn’t Want to Stay Married…But He Didn’t Want a Divorce


by Jennifer Billock

Patience—and the law—prevails when an uncooperative partner avoids divorce proceedings.

Divorcing an Uncooperative Partner

What Happens to Credit Card Debt When I Get a Divorce?


by Hossein Berenji

In a community property state like California, credit card debt may be shared between partners.

Credit Card Debt After Divorce

New Year Ushers in New Formulas for Calculating Maintenance Payments in Divorce Proceedings


by Timothy E. Weiler

The anticipated outcome of the adoption of the increased income threshold is to reduce litigation about the amount of maintenance to be paid by simply applying the statutorily mandated calculation to more individuals with a much higher annual income.

Maintenance Payments

Important Considerations in Determining What Is in the Best Interest of a Child


by Hossein Berenji

When courts make determinations about child custody they will make the decision based on what they believe is in the best interest of the child.

Best Interest of a Child

Clients Should Understand Basic Financial Consequences of a Divorce


by Steven Fernandez

Spouses who get divorced will have to adjust how they file their taxes, what income and liabilities they must report for tax purposes, and even how they approach discussions about alimony and spousal support.

Divorce Finances

The Evolving Landscape of Family Law


by Sean Stonefield

​A roundtable discussion with the founders of one of California’s preeminent divorce firms, Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers, LLP.

Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers

Trending Articles

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees


by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023


by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers proudly announces lawyers recognized in South Africa for 2023.

South African flag

Could Reign Supreme End with the Queen?


by Sara Collin

Canada is revisiting the notion of abolishing the monarchy after Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, but many Canadians and lawmakers are questioning if Canada could, should and would follow through.

Teacup on saucer over image of Queen's eye

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some


by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?

IN PARTNERSHIP

2022: Another Banner Year


by John Fields

Block O’Toole & Murphy continues to secure some of New York’s highest results for personal injury matters.

Three men in business suits standing in office

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in Canada Honorees


by Best Lawyers

The Best Lawyers in Canada™ is entering its 17th edition for 2023. We highlight the elite lawyers awarded this year.

Red map of Canada with white lines and dots

Wage and Overtime Laws for Truck Drivers


by Greg Mansell

For truck drivers nationwide, underpayment and overtime violations are just the beginning of a long list of problems. Below we explore the wages you are entitled to but may not be receiving.

Truck Driver Wage and Overtime Laws in the US

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom


by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

The Upcycle Conundrum


by Karen Kreider Gaunt

Laudable or litigious? What you need to know about potential copyright and trademark infringement when repurposing products.

Repurposed Products and Copyright Infringemen

Thirteen Years of Excellence


by Best Lawyers

For the 13th consecutive year, “Best Law Firms” has awarded the most elite and talented law firms across the country through a thorough and trusted data review process.

Red, white and blue pipes and writing on black background

Caffeine Overload and DUI Tests


by Daniel Taylor

While it might come as a surprise, the over-consumption of caffeine could trigger a false positive on a breathalyzer test.

Can Caffeine Cause You to Fail DUI Test?

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect


by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Australia.

The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Germany™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Germany.

Black, red and yellow stripes