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New Illinois Law Allows Courts to Consider Pet Custody in Divorce Cases

Posted by A. Lou Benassi | Dec 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

Alongside New Year's resolutions, champagne, and confetti, 2018 will bring a new abundance of bills that have been signed into law and in full effect in states across the nation. Illinois has enacted new legislation that lawmakers and residents alike are calling “game changers.” These laws include the requirement of feminine hygiene products in middle school and high school restrooms, and the newly proclaimed commemorative “Obama Day” on August 4. But the controversial law that has many residents talking is the state's new approach to the role of pets in divorce proceedings.

The Law: Public Act 100-0422

Effective January 1, Public Act 100-0422 has dictated that judges who preside over divorce proceedings will now treat pets more like children rather than property. Thereby, when a pet's owners divorce, it could possibly be subject to sole or joint custody in a spousal split. This law, which is only exclusive to companion animals, will allow the court to consider the well-being of a pet before allocating its ownership to the divorcees.

Senator and self-proclaimed animal lover Linda Holmes sponsored the legislation. She claims that pets are marital assets, and that judges should take the “best interest of an animal into consideration.” She believes that this brand new alternative approach to assigning ownership of pets in a divorce will be more pleasing to the majority of Illinois residents, particularly divorcees who acknowledge their pets as a member of the family, rather than a piece of property.

This law has also become the answer to the increasingly prevalent issue of pet custody. Although most individuals ttend to reach an agreement about pets outside of court, this law will serve as a helpful guide for judges who may not be sure about what grounds to base this decision upon when a couple chooses to hash this issue out in court. It will be especially useful in cases involving a two-income couple who don't have any kids, are both attached to a pet, and have shared the responsibility of caring for it - a very common predicament in courts within the last decade.

Prior to the enactment of this law, a judge would simply give a pet to one side or the other without weighing the options. Now, there is more leeway in determining a custody arrangement for a pet after a divorce is finalized. Questions concerning who walks the dog more, who has more time to clean the fish tank routinely, who buys the pet food, or who has a less demanding job to spend quality time with a pet will be asked and considered to work out an agreement.

Illinois Divorce Attorneys

To people who share their lives with animals, the new law is a overdue admission that affirms what they already knew: animals should be treated differently than other types of property, and deserve special consideration in divorce proceedings. The attorneys at Benassi & Benassi have always fought for the needs and interests of their clients to be considered in court. If you are contemplating getting a divorce and have questions about pet ownership, or any other aspects of the divorce process, contact us today for a free consultation.

About the Author

A. Lou Benassi

A. Lou Benassi was born and raised in Taylor Springs, Illinois, a small mining and farming community located near Hillsboro, the county seat of Montgomery County, Illinois...

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