New law goes into effect on pet ownership in divorces

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BELLEVILLE, IL -  A new state law will impact how pet ownership is handled when a couple divorces.  Pets will be treated more like kids than property in splits.  They could be subject to partial or joint custody after their owners get a divorce.

FOX 2 spoke to Belleville-based attorney, Jennifer Behme, about the new law.

"Now the courts have the statutory authority to designate sole or joint ownership between the parties or a sharing arrangement, something you would see more regards to children then typical property distribution," she said.

Behme said only pets purchased or adopted during the couple's marriage will be impacted.  If a spouse had the pet before they were married they would keep the dog.

She said a judge will have a list of things to consider when deciding who gets ownership.

"Who is actually taking care of the pet, was it a gift, who takes the pet to the vet, what kind of arrangements have the party had in regard to caring for the pet," she said.

The said if the judge decided shared custody was in the best interest for the dog, a schedule would follow.  The new law does not apply to service animals.​

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