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IL divorce lawyerHigh-conflict divorces are painful experiences, and they can be made even worse when the custody of a beloved pet is contested. A couple may disagree over who should have full-time custody of the pet or whether one person should have any visitation rights at all. Coming to a resolution on these issues can be difficult and emotionally draining. Some couples have planned to avoid conflict around pet ownership by using a “petnup.”

How Are Pets Treated in Illinois Divorce?

Illinois is one of the few states that allow for animals to be treated as more than property, thanks to a 2018 amendment allowing judges to consider the animal’s best interests when making decisions regarding custody and ownership. Among the factors judges will consider is whether it is actually good for pets to move from one home to another, especially since some pets are very attached to people and places, and moving regularly can be traumatizing and cause behavioral problems.

What Is a Petnup?

One way of mitigating these issues is by using a “petnup,” which gets its name from a prenuptial agreement, or “prenup.” A petnup is a written agreement between a couple determining what will happen to a pet in the event of a divorce or separation. Without a petnup, the only way one spouse could maintain ownership of the pet in the event of a divorce is if they adopted and registered the pet in their name alone and paid for all expenses related to the pet out of their own account and not with joint funds. Even in this situation, there would be no guarantee a divorce judge would grant that spouse sole custody of the pet.


IL divorce lawyerThe cultural stereotype of asset division in divorce is that all marital debts and assets are split 50/50, but the reality is more complicated. While some states do have “community property” where marital assets are divided equally, Illinois is not one of those states.

In Illinois, divorce law requires something called “equitable division.” Equitable division is exactly what it sounds like: Marital assets and debts are divided according to what is fair, rather than right down the middle. Here, we will look at what factors judges can use when determining equity, and other issues that might contribute to the division of marital assets.

What Factors Into Equitability?

Because Illinois is a “no-fault” divorce state, spouses do not have to give a reason for divorce besides irreconcilable differences. Even if one spouse committed an act of infidelity that led to the end of the relationship, spouses cannot “fault” each other in divorce proceedings and courts will not award more marital assets to the spouse who was cheated on.


IL divorce lawyerIf you are considering divorce and feel concerned that it may be a high-conflict divorce, you may want to speak with a divorce attorney without letting your spouse know. The reasons for this are varied: Perhaps you still live with your spouse and fear retaliation or abuse, or you yourself are unsure of how serious you are about pursuing a divorce. You may want to give yourself the upper hand in preparing for the divorce and serving the papers.

Regardless of the reason, it is perfectly legal to meet with a divorce attorney without telling your spouse. You can even file for divorce without telling your spouse – they do not have to know that you are considering divorce until they are served divorce papers. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you seek a confidential meeting with a divorce attorney.

Speak with More than One Attorney

Although it may feel risky to meet with a divorce attorney without your spouse’s knowledge, you need an attorney who is going to represent your interests in a way that feels comfortable and secure. Even though every attorney-client relationship is legally protected, you may not be a good match with the first attorney you meet. Take time to find a firm that listens to your needs and is willing to advocate aggressively on your behalf. Meet in a safe, discrete manner


IL divorce lawyerFinding out that your spouse has gone behind your back and had an affair is one of the most upsetting experiences a person can have. You may feel as though your world has turned upside down and that you now doubt many of the things you previously assumed to be true. Complicating your personal experience is the ensuing divorce. Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that regardless of the reason for your divorce you will simply file citing “irreconcilable differences.” Nevertheless, marital infidelity can still affect the outcome of your divorce.

Child Custody

Typically, infidelity will not impact parental responsibilities and parenting time. Your spouse will generally still be able to advocate for their right to see your child and spend time with them. However, if your spouse’s new partner presents a credible threat to your child, courts will take this into account when parental responsibilities are allocated.

For example, if your spouse’s new boyfriend or girlfriend is a registered sex offender, or if they have a criminal history of child or domestic abuse, the court will take this into consideration and may limit your spouse’s parenting time.


IL divorce lawyerAlthough circumstances can vary when building towards a high asset divorce, common contributing factors are spouses who are high earners and have had a long marriage. When spouses commonly hold many assets that are valuable and complicated, a complex divorce is inevitable.

If you are considering divorce and have high-value assets or high net worth, you will need an experienced, assertive attorney who will advocate for your best interests. In addition to having an outstanding legal team, here are other things to consider when beginning a high asset divorce.

Hire a Forensic Accountant

Complex assets include things like stock options, overseas investments, trusts, pensions, retirement plans, and private art or vehicle collections. Assets such as these can make divorce very complicated.

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2015 Spring Road, Oak Brook, IL 60523

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