CHICAGO, Jan. 10, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- A divorce means much more than the end of an intimate relationship between two adults. In most cases, a couple will live together for years before parting, and in that time, they will have acquired property, and many other items of value. Material objects can be replaced, of course, and therefore, the most delicate arrangements usually surround custody of the children. Jeffery M. Leving, a leading advocate for the rights of fathers in child custody cases, states: "I understand that in addition to children, the dissolution of a marriage may also require a couple to decide who will get the family pets."
Traditionally, animal companions have been treated as property. However, starting in 2018, a new law will change that reality in Illinois. Under this recently passed legislation, divorce law no longer considers pets merely as property. As of January 1, 2018, "judges in divorce proceedings can consider the well-being of companion animals in allocating sole or joint ownership." State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora), who sponsored the legislation is quoted as saying, "[The law] sort of starts treating your animal like children."
Pets should receive greater protections, but the essential rights of children, who are currently thrown into our highly adversarial and combative legal system should be paramount. The rights of pets should not take priority over children who are most vulnerable in a parental break-up they did not cause and sadly often feel responsible for.
Equal rights and due process should be afforded to everyone in our legal system irrespective of gender, religion, race or national origin. Pets are treated as family now, but so are Illinois children. Illinois needs a new law that requires courts to presume both parents worthy of equal parenting time.
Any compassionate individual is likely to find it difficult to understand how legislation that advocates treating pets more like children sailed through the legislative process, while equal-time parenting legislation introduced by Illinois Representative La Shawn Ford languishes without a final vote. "Rep. Ford's legislation, which would, once and for all, acknowledge fathers as equal parents in the eyes of the law, is essential to safeguarding children. Pets' legal rights should not outweigh equal protection and due process under the law for dads," said Jeffery Leving.
CONTACT: Jennifer Whiteside
SOURCE Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, Ltd.