Dealing with Pets in Illinois Divorce Cases

Pets are an important part of many people’s lives.  Indeed, I have seen Illinois divorce cases where there was more concerns over a dog or cat then some people people sadly show for their children.  As such, handling pet matters in a divorce case can be of great importance.

Illinois law is more pet-friendly than many states, and judges in Illinois often craft their court orders in a way that will be conducive to handling a pet dispute.  That is a good thing, for both the pet’s owner and the pet.  However, to achieve a good resolution on pet matters it is important to properly present the issues to the court in a way that the judge will be receptive to hearing.

In a divorce case, the Illinois Circuit Court has the authority to enter injunctions and other temporary orders to avoid harm being inflicted upon a pet. Sometimes such injunctions are sought when one spouse is abusing or neglecting a dog or cat, or has threatened to do so.  It is a sad reality that in divorce cases, people sometimes harm a pet as a means of hurting their spouse.  I have had cases where such emergency injunctions or other similar orders have been granted, which often goes a long way to making life easier for my client (and their pet).

When it comes to longer-term resolutions in Illinois divorce cases where ownership of a cat, dog, or other pet it contested, there are a variety of resolutions that can be implemented either by agreement or with the court ordering the outcome after a trial.  While the court will not handle pet ownership the way that it will handle child custody, the court in Illinois can enter an Order that provides for what amounts to “pet visitation” or a right of first refusal to care for a pet.  In cases where children are involved in the divorce case as well, there are other resolutions that can be entered to ensure that a child is not harmed by being separated from their pet.

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As an attorney who has cats, dogs, and other pets, I understand how pets are important to a person and their children.  In Illinois divorce cases involving pets, I find it rewarding to help my client seek an outcome that takes into consideration the pets that are at issue in the case.