Section 503(j)(6)(n) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA”) was enacted on January 1, 2018. This section of the IMDMA addresses companion animals, such as dogs, and states as follows:

“(n) If the court finds that a companion animal of the parties is a marital asset, it shall allocate the sole or joint ownership of and responsibility for a companion animal of the parties. In issuing an order under this subsection, the court shall take into consideration the well-being of the companion animal.”

In determining the well-being of the companion animal, the court may consider a variety of factors such as the party who is primarily responsible for the animal’s care, facilitating the purchase of the animal, administering necessary medications, feeding, and grooming of the animal, taking the animal for walks, taking the animal to the park, enrolling the animal in day care or training, or being part of a Facebook group with the animal’s litter mates. This is a non-exhaustive list, and the court may consider anything else it deems relevant to the well-being of the companion animal.

Based on the aforementioned factors, the more involved the party is in the day-to-day care of the animal, and the more love and care the party provides for the animal, the more likely the court will allocate sole ownership of and responsibly for a companion animal of the parties!

Madeline J. Sefton, Associate

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