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What will happen to the family pet dog in my Illinois divorce?

Have you ever thought about what would happen to your pets in a divorce? The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers conducted a survey last year, which discovered that disagreements over pet custody in divorces have increased by 27 percent. All of these couples have something in common, though: they do not have children under the age of 18.

One woman, who is 46 years of age and recently divorced, said that she wrongly assumed she would get to keep her two 10-year-old dogs following her divorce proceedings. However, even though she says she was the one who primarily took care of the dogs, her 51-year-old husband said that he had a right to them too. He said that they were part of his family and life. Now, the couple has reached a legal agreement to exchange the two aging pugs every week so that can each spend equal time with the animals.

Celebrities are also fighting over custody of their fury little friends after a breakup. Johnny Weir, an Olympic figure skater, received full custody of a pet in a legal battle against his ex-boyfriend. Similarly, Melanie Griffith battled against Antonio Banderas to keep their three dogs.

One divorce mediator commented on all the pet custody battles, saying that people refer to their animals as members of the family and even though they jokingly call them their children, they are actually rather serious about that.

Illinois pet owners who are contemplating divorce may want to think about how their pets will be treated in that divorce. In this respect, the issue of pet custody, and who will be taking ownership of the family pets, should come as early as possible in any divorce negotiations.

Source: New York Post, "Dogs are the new kids in NYC custody battles," Lindsay Putnam, April. 07, 2015

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