During a Divorce, Are All Family Pets Considered Under the New Illinois Companion Animal Statute?
Divorce Lawyers for Couples with Pets in Wheaton and St. Charles
The new statute in Illinois regarding pets during a divorce only applies to those that are determined to be companion animals. The law does not expressly define a companion animal, but it does specifically exclude service animals. If the parties cannot agree, the court will determine if an animal should be considered a companion animal.
The recently-amended Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) gives divorce courts the power to “allocate the sole or joint ownership of and responsibility for a companion animal of the parties.” The IMDMA does not, however, provide a definition for a “companion animal.” The law does expressly state that a companion animal does not include a service animal as defined in a separate law called the Humane Care for Animals Act. A court’s definition of a companion animal may also be based on that same law.
The Humane Care for Animals Act defines a companion animal as “an animal that is commonly considered to be, or is considered by the owner to be, a pet.” The Act also provides that companion animals include but are not limited to dogs, cats, and horses.
DuPage County Divorce Lawyers Who Know the Law
Using this definition of a companion animal, virtually any animal that you treat as a pet can be considered under the amended divorce statute. If you can demonstrate that you, as the owner, consider an animal to be a pet, the court is likely to determine that the animal is a companion animal.
Unfortunately, the courts are not always predictable, especially during divorce proceedings. That is why you need an experienced attorney who can help you present your case clearly and efficiently. Contact MKFM Law to schedule a confidential consultation at either of our two office locations. Call 630-665-7300 today. Our firm represents clients in and around DuPage County, Kane County, and the rest of Northern Illinois.