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Who gets to keep the furry family member in a divorce?

When a relationship goes sideways, there are things couples need to sort out. Divorce brings with it some hard decisions regarding child custody, child support, alimony and the division of assets. But there is something else Illinois residents need to consider -- who gets to keep the furry, feathered or scaly family member? Some experts are even suggesting couples have pup nups -- akin to a prenup, only focusing on the family pet.

Dogs incite the most conflict when it comes to divorce and who gets to keep Fido. Fewer people are willing to walk away from a pet and so lawyers say they are seeing more couples fighting over custody of the dog, cat or any other types of pets they may have, which could even include a horse. Up until recently, pets have been treated as property, but that has been changing.

Recently, Illinois, along with two other states, passed legislation providing that pets should be considered more than chattel -- that family court judges take into consideration what is best for a pet's well-being when considering who the pet should be with. When a couple becomes engaged, they can also have a pup nup drafted outlining what should happen to a pet in the event the couple separates or divorces. Such a document could also stipulate visitation times and provide some sort of guideline for the care of the animal.

Laws regarding divorce in Illinois are forever changing. An attorney is able to help a client to understand these laws and how they might play out in their individual situations such as when a client is a pet owner. An experienced lawyer may be able to help his or her client in these circumstances and even help a client to draft a document that speaks to a family pet in the event of divorce.

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