Illinois Allows the Court to Decide Who Gets the Pet in the Divorce

In the state of Illinois, custody battles for pets are now handled by divorce court judges. Owners can argue what decision they believe is in the best interest of the pet.

A dog pulling on his leash in the battle for custody between owners.
Judges will take into account the well-being of the pets when making the decision of who gets custody.

As of Jan. 1, 2018, a new Illinois state law permits divorce court judges to award sole or joint custody of pets. Judges may also take into account the well-being of the pets when making their custody battle decisions.

In the past, pets were considered property, so whichever party could prove the most “ownership” of the animal was typically awarded the pet. With the new law, owners can present arguments that take the best interests of the pet into consideration.

Jackie Brown is a freelance writer from Southern California who specializes in the pet industry. Reach her at

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you!

Thumbnail: Photography by ©Westend6 | Getty Images.

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