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Divorce: Agreeing On Who Keeps the Pet – Advisory from ISBA

Question: My spouse and I are divorcing and cannot agree on which of us will keep our beloved family pet. What legal options are available to help us resolve this issue? Answer: Under the law, pets are considered property. If you and your spouse are unable to come up with a plan, you may want to work with a pet mediator and your respective divorce lawyers to provide the structure for an agreement. Popular options include joint custody or custody by one person with visitation rights. Once a decision is reached, you should consider a written agreement that may also include provisions for veterinary care decisions, the sharing of expenses, and health care and end-of-life decisions. For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public.