Family Pets and Divorce

We all know the unconditional love that pets give to their owners and we all know that everyone loves them right back. We know how important your pet is to you and your family and if you don't have children, then your pet has most likely taken on the role of your child. You want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and taken care of throughout all circumstances in life.

A lot of people going through a divorce with a pet want to know what is going to happen to the family pet after the divorce. Does it go with mom? Does it go with dad? Do they split the time? Or does it follow the children (if involved) in their custody schedule? At Stange Law Firm, PC we are here to help you with every aspect of your divorce case, including what is going to happen to the pet.

In many cases, if a child is involved, many judges will keep the pet with the child in the divorce. Since the law considers pets to be property, to be divided among splitting spouses like the house or car, the court may also look at factors, such as:

  • If the pet was owned by one spouse prior to the relationship
  • If the pet belongs to the child or has a special bond with the child
  • If one spouse is the person who takes care of the pet a majority of the time (letting out, feeding, grooming, etc.)
  • If the pet has a special bond with other pets in the household

But, practically speaking, the family pet is considered as any other item of martial property in Missouri and Kansas. One party to the divorce is granted the possession of the pet just like any other marital asset, like the house, the cars, the bank accounts, etc.

However, in Illinois, Section 5/504 now requires that the court award sole or joint custody of a companion animal by considering the following:

  • If the court finds that a companion animal of the parties is a marital asset, it shall allocate the sole or joint ownership of and responsibility for a companion animal of the parties.
  • In issuing an order under this subsection, the court shall take into consideration the well-being of the companion animal.

This makes the law dramatically different in Illinois than it is in Missouri and Kansas. If you are going through a divorce where the family pet is an important issue, we can help.

We have also written an article on the topic, titled: "Who Lets the Dog Out?"

Contact Our Divorce Attorneys in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Oklahoma

If this is a current situation you are going through, talking to an experienced divorce attorney can help. To schedule a consultation with one of our divorce lawyers, you can contact us online or call us at any of our convenient locations throughout Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas, including St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield.