Woman with dog after divorce

Who Gets the Pets in a Florida Divorce?

To many of us, our pets are our family. We love and care for them as if they were our own children. Because of this, it is no wonder that who gets the pets becomes a big question as a couple approaches divorce proceedings. Let’s take a look at how the pet issue is handled in a Florida divorce.

Who Gets the Pets in a Florida Divorce?

While you may consider a pet a member of the family, in a divorce, a pet is treated as property. As such, a pet is subject to Florida’s equitable distribution law. Because Florida is an equitable distribution state, marital property is divided in a manner that is deemed equitable or fair. This does not necessarily mean property is evenly divided, although it does work out that way fairly often. In order to accomplish equity in the marital property division calculation, a court will weigh a number of factors. While a court will not consider what is in the best interest of the pet the same way they would consider the best interests of the child in a child custody determination, there are a number of factors that will be weighed in the deliberations.

In deciding who will get ownership of a pet, the court will consider things such as whether one spouse was more involved in caring for the pet. Who fed the pet? Who took the pet to vet appointments and made sure its needs were met? The court will consider who is best situated, including health status, to care for the pet. The pets value will also be a consideration. A court may also consider whether the couple has children and whether it would be best for the pet to stay with the parent who will have primary custody of the children. If there is a prenuptial agreement in place, there may already be a provision in place for who would get ownership of the pet in the event of divorce. In this case, the prenuptial agreement would dictate the outcome.

If left to a court to decide who will get the pet, there will be no division of time with the pet. One spouse will get ownership of the pet and that is it. It is also likely to be a quick decision. If you and your spouse are interested in pursuing a different arrangement, it will be up to you both to come to an alternate agreement on your own. You could pursue mediation in order to help facilitate the process of meeting on a mutually acceptable custody arrangement for the pet. The mediator is a neutral third party that is there to foster and facilitate compromise and communication between you and your spouse. If you want to arrange a shared time schedule with your pet, reaching an agreement with your spouse on the subject is crucial.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Divorce comes with many challenges and life disruptions. The team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou helps their clients weather the storm and are always by their side to advocate on behalf of their best interests. Contact us today.

Andrew Nickolaou

Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew also handles record expungements and sealings. If you have questions about this article, contact Andrew today by clicking here.