Can I get sole pet custody?

On Behalf of | May 22, 2023 | Firm News |

A growing trend in our society today is the term “fur baby.” A fur baby is any animal, such as a dog, cat or other furry pet, whose owner gives the same love and attention as they would an actual baby or human child. They may buy the pet clothes, put them in strollers and even send them to day care. As a fur baby parent, you know what it feels like to love your fur baby as if it was your child. Fighting for pet custody can feel like you are trying to keep child custody.

In an Illinois divorce, there is a chance you may not have sole custody of your fur baby, and you will have to share custody with your ex. The law only applies if the companion animal is a marital asset.

Is my pet a marital asset?

Before the court can decide who to award custody to, they must establish that your pet is a marital asset. A marital asset is any property either spouse obtains during their marriage. You may have sole legal pet custody under the following circumstances:

  • You acquired the pet before your marriage
  • You received the pet during marriage, but as a gift
  • You inherited the pet
  • Your pet is your service animal

It would be more challenging to attain sole custody of your pet if you and your ex purchased or adopted the animal together before your divorce. Fortunately, the law now considers the best interests of animals, not just children.

The best interest of your pet

Pet custody only existed in Illinois in 2018. Before, the court may simply award you sole or joint possession of the animal. The arrangement had no legally binding authority. However, there were changes to the law that you will find in Section 503(n) to ensure the well-being of the pet or companion animal. If you can prove to the court that you were solely responsible for caring for your pet, you may have a chance to obtain sole pet custody despite your pet being a marital asset.