Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Chicago Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Divorce > Washington D.C. Follows Chicago Divorce Laws, Considers “Best Interests” Of Pets In Divorce Cases Involving Pet Custody

Washington D.C. Follows Chicago Divorce Laws, Considers “Best Interests” Of Pets In Divorce Cases Involving Pet Custody


Pets are our beloved furry family members that can make our lives happier, healthier, and full of companionship. During the last couple of years, specifically during the COVID-19 Pandemic, households in Chicago and all over the country turned to dogs, cats, and other pets for comfort, security, and for a friend in a difficult time. Indeed, for many people, pets are more than just companion animals, but true members of the family. Accordingly, divorce cases involving pets can be incredibly difficult and heartbreaking, and the concern about where the pet will live and who will make important decisions about the pet’s life is a pressing and stressful issue. A divorce with pets for many people is not unlike a divorce involving children.

In divorce cases that involve children, one of the significant issues that must be determined –either by agreement or by a judge—in a divorce case is child custody. Child custody refers to the legal relationship between the child and a parent. Legal custody, that is the right to make important life decisions on behalf of and about the child, and physical custody, the right to live and physically take care of the child, must be determined in divorce cases. In addition, Chicago courts, and most courts throughout the U.S., must consider the “best interests” of the child in awarding physical and legal custody. The same is not true of pets in most states. In most states in the U.S., pets are considered “property” and the best interests of the pet are not a factor when considering who gets the pet or who makes decisions about the pet after the divorce.

In Chicago, the divorce laws regarding pets are different. In Chicago divorces, the “best interests” of a pet is an issue for consideration when assessing who should get pet custody. Only three states in the U.S. have pet custody laws like this on the books, Illinois, California, and Alaska. According to local news reports, in December, Washington D.C. lawmakers considered a bill that would add a “best interests of the pet” analysis to divorces involving pets. The law would allow Washington D.C. divorce judges to grant sole or joint ownership over a pet based on the “best interests of the pet” and the care of the pet. During the divorce proceedings, Washington D.C. divorce judges would also be permitted to issue orders requiring one party to take care of the pet during the proceedings. However, this order would not be a factor in later determining pet custody in the case.

Help with a Pet Custody Case in Chicago

Pet custody issues are important to many people during Chicago divorce proceedings. If you are seeking help with a Chicago divorce, it is important to speak to an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer. The Chicago divorce lawyers at Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC, are here to listen to your story and to see if they can help. Contact the law offices of Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC and speak to a lawyer today about your Chicago divorce.



Facebook Twitter LinkedIn