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“Petnups” on the Rise in Illinois Divorces

Posted on in Divorce

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.

Can a Couple Share Custody of a Pet?

Judges can grant a couple joint custody of their pet if the owners want to share ownership and can both afford to care for the animal. The couple would have to agree to an arrangement that works for them both, as well as who would pay for things like medication and veterinary visits. Shared custody arrangements work best when couples are able to treat each other amicably and live within a reasonable distance of each other.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

If you are anticipating a hostile divorce and need aggressive representation, consider the law firm of Botti Marinaccio. We are highly rated by clients and have won numerous awards for our client service and representation. When it comes to your divorce, we work with you to determine your options and assertively represent your interests. Contact us today at 630-575-8585 for a consultation with one of our experienced Oak Brook, Illinois divorce attorneys.




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