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pets, Lombard family law attorneyThere is little question that family pets have a special place in the hearts of many people. In fact, as many as two-thirds of all American households own at least one dog or cat. Owning a pet, of course, can be very beneficial to both the family and the animal, but what happens in the event of divorce? Does either party have presumed rights to keep the animals or to visitation? In the state of Illinois, the answer is rather unclear as a matter of law, and recent appellate court decision has not really helped to clarify the law’s intent.

Children and Property

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, considerations in a divorce must be made for a couple’s children and the disposition of property. These, obviously, are very reasonable, but, for many families, pets seem to fall somewhere in between. Dogs and cats may not be as important as children–although to couples without children they may be—but they are certainly more valuable than a piece of furniture or artwork. Without statutory guidance, each case must be considered individually.

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