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Determining pet custody can lead to major dispute

Whether they own a pet themselves or not, most people may understand how pet owners can grow to regard their furry friends as family members. After all, pets are known to be a great source of joy and companionship, and can bring families closer together. In some instances, however, issues can arise when couples confronting a divorce in Illinois and elsewhere face the prospect of deciding who should keep the animal.

It’s estimated that pet custody disputes are becoming increasingly common in family courts around the country, according to research conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. The findings are understandable given that divorce presents separating couples with the difficult task of deciding who should gain custody of a loved one when that family member is viewed as personal property under the law.

Because determining ownership of a pet is typically dealt with in family court during the property division process, divorcing pet owners are encouraged to make necessary arrangements between themselves that account for the best interests of the animal. If there are children in the family, it may be important to keep the family pet with them. It’s also important to consider which party has the time and financial resources to care for the animal on a daily basis.

Because they are becoming more accustomed to dealing with such matters, many family court judges are willing to make a thoughtful decision when determining pet custody. And while the law may still view family pets as personal property, deciding their fate in the divorce process can resemble making child custody arrangements.

Source: Huffington Post, “Who Gets the Family Dog After Divorce?” Nancy Kay, Nov. 10, 2013

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