Custody of Pets in Divorce – New for 2018
Pets, known as “companion animals” in the law, have been traditionally considered nothing more than personal property, the same as household goods or vehicles. But, few people have the strong emotional bond with a piece of furniture or SUV that they do with their furry friend. Starting January 1, 2018, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act has been amended to permit the Court to consider the well-being of the animal when allocating ownership and responsibility for pets. Such allocations can be placed solely with one party, or shared jointly between both parties.
As pets are still considered property, to be divided with other assets in the divorce, the statutory amendment does not go so far as to implement the “best interests” standard of child custody determinations. The amendment does, however, substantially expand the Court’s opportunity to take into account the welfare of the animal.
The Court may potentially consider which party: acquired the animal, registered the animal, shares the closer attachment with the animal, undertakes the day to day care of the animal, facilitates its veterinary care, satisfies the necessary expenses of the animal, and other like considerations.
For more information about how Illinois courts allocate personal property and pets in divorce proceedings, see Section 503(n) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.
Important Considerations for Re-Marriage:
Many couples get married, and many couples get divorced. Some of those couples end up meeting new people and getting re-married. While certainly less common, some couples even get re-married to each other after getting divorced. In this situation, many people believe their marriage will simply “pick up where it left off.” While this might be true on an emotional or relationship level, the Illinois courts will not treat your marriage this way.
In Illinois, your first marriage is considered completed after a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage is entered and your property is allocated. This initial allocation of property is important when you get re-married to an ex-spouse, as even though that property might have been acquired during the (first) marriage, it will be treated by the Illinois courts as each spouse’s pre-marital property. This means that all financial accounts and property you bring into your second marriage, even if it’s to the same spouse as your first marriage, are no longer considered marital property.
This same concept applies when the Court calculates maintenance, or spousal support. In Illinois, significant increases in the duration of maintenance occur every five years of marriage. However, if you get re-married to your ex-spouse, the Court will only consider the length of your second (or most recent) marriage when determining an award of maintenance. If you were to get re-married to an ex-spouse who still owed you 8 years of maintenance payments, and your re-marriage only lasted 2 years, there is a good chance the Court would only award you a few months of maintenance, rather than the years of maintenance you were previously awarded.
There are a number of additional factors to consider when considering re-marriage, especially when it is to an ex-spouse. Contact a divorce lawyer or family attorney at our Lombard or Plainfield offices for a free consultation. Our attorneys are able to meet in person or discuss your options via phone if it is more convenient for you.
For more information about marital property in divorce cases, see section 5/503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.