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New Illinois pet custody law in affect in 2018

Divorcing couples in Illinois have a number of issues to deal with. For one, they have to worry about dividing up their marital property, including their family home, vehicles, and other prized possessions. Another common issue, is dealing with child custody arrangements. Determining where the child will live, how much time they get with each parent, and how much influence each parent has on the child's life can be challenging.

One commonly overlooked family law issue is determining who gets the family pet after a divorce. In the past, pets were treated like any other piece of property and would be given to one spouse or the other. This posed to be a problem when both spouses had a close attachment to the pet. However, a new law in Illinois, effective January 1, 2018, attempts to solve this problem by treating pets more like members of the family.

Most people are able to come to an understanding with regards to their pet outside of the courtroom. However, when pet custody cases do end up in front of the judge, this new law will give judges more options when determining what to do with the pet. The new law allows the judge on your case to consider what is in the animal's best interest, and possibly awarding shared custody, or joint ownership of the pet. This is similar to state child custody laws, which also consider the best interest of the child and allow, and even encourage, joint custody.

Pets are an important part of many families' lives. This new law considers the pets well-being, as well as the bond between a pet and their owner. For more information on Illinois divorce and custody laws, you may benefit from contacting a family law attorney.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "New state law treats pets more like children in custody cases," Leonor Vivanco-Prengaman," Dec. 25, 2017

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