Divorce and Pets

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ILLINOIS (WAND)- Divorcing couples in Illinois can now have a judge determine custody of their pets under a new law. 

The law, SB1261, will go into effect at the first of the year, and will allow animals to be treated more like children instead of property. 

"Before now they have just been treated as a thing or a piece of property and they are so much more than that. They are apart of our lives and apart of our families and so its exciting that finally they are going to be treated that way." said Deana Corbin, Executive Director of Animal Protective League. 

This law will allow a judge to determine what is in the best interest of the animal. 

"I think at times you have people who would be fighting over the animal as leverage, unfortunately the way some people do with children, so I think it makes sense to take into consideration what's in the best interest of the people and the animal." said Senator Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, the bill sponsor.

"We've all heard stories unfortunately about people who end up in that situation and they both want the animal and its hard to decide who gets it. Now I think they will even be able to offer joint custody for people who want to share the animal so that's awesome." said Corbin. 

Illinois is the second state to enact this type of law, Alaska led the way. 

"Animals are so special and apart of our family they are not just a piece of property or a thing and people love them and care for them and I think this law will help them take into account what is best for the animal and who is going to care for them best." said Corbin. 

The measure passed in May with overwhelming support in both chambers. 

Service dogs are not included in the law.

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