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Who Gets the Pet in Divorce? What the New Law in Alaska Means


Many individuals who file for divorce are surprised that when it comes to dividing property, animals get only as much consideration as non-living items. Many people consider their pets a part of their family and as such, many owners are distraught when an animal is awarded to one spouse just as the furniture and other property is.

Recently, Alaska passed a law that gives courts a new way to evaluate dividing animals as part of a divorce. Other states may follow suit, meaning that this may affect your Illinois divorce as well.

The New Alaska Law Takes an Animal’s Welfare Into Consideration 

Just as courts account for your children’s’ best interests when awarding parenting time, the new Alaska law permits courts to account for an animal’s best interests as well. This means that while traditionally courts awarded animals to the spouse who had contributed most to the animal’s care – for instance by paying for vet bills, food, immunizations, and other expenses – now courts can consider other factors.

The idea of split custody – where both you and your former spouse share time with a pet – is a common solution under this new law. This gives a spouse who may have not contributed financially to a pet’s well-being but did so in other ways to get a chance to still spend time with the animal post-divorce.

Of course, it’s still up to the judge as to how time is awarded if you can’t come to an agreement with your spouse. However, the ability to decide custody of the pet in this way opens many doors for spouses who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to do so.

Other States May Adopt a Similar Law 

While the Alaska law sounds good in theory, there’s one problem: Alaska is the only state to adopt such a law thus far. However, divorced couples have long pushed for different laws regarding how pets are divided in divorce. As such, it wouldn’t be far fetched for other states to begin adopting similar laws over time.

Until Illinois changes their law and treats pets differently than other marital property, it’s important you hire a Naperville divorce attorney that will help you spend time with your pet after the divorce is over.

Contact Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. for More Information 

At Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd., we understand that your pet is more than just another piece of property. As such, we advocate on your behalf and rely on our over 35 years of family law experience to reach a favorable outcome and ensure your pet is treated properly during the divorce process.

If you have questions about pets in divorce or any other matters, contact Larry for your free, 30-minute consultation at 630-470-9990. You may also request an appointment using our simple online form.

We look forward to speaking with you and better understanding how we can best assist in your case.

Learn more about the new law here!

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Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

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About Attorney Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd.

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

We continue to work with clients in Naperville, Wheaton, Lisle, Oswego, Downers Grove, and the surrounding areas to provide one-on-one support and attention that will help you through this difficult time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time. We look forward to offering our expertise and support to you throughout your case and after.