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How Does a Florida Divorce Affect Your Pets?
Getting a divorce in Florida can be a challenging experience, but it’s a common legal action. Approximately 50% of marriages between first spouses end in divorce. Florida has the third-highest divorce rate in the nation.
You might not consider a pet property. To you and your spouse, they may be part of the family. However, the law treats pets as property for the purposes of divorce proceedings.
Who Gets the Pets After a Divorce in Florida?
During a divorce, courts will often spend considerable time investigating the best custody solutions for children. The courts make their decisions according to the “best interest” of the child. Courts typically spend less time and energy dealing with pet ownership issues. These matters are just one component of the property division process.
Courts might use a range of factors to determine who will be granted ownership of the family pets after a divorce.
Possible arrangements include the following:
This is the least complicated arrangement. Sometimes, divorcing spouses agree that one individual will keep the pet. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to come to such an agreement.
Spouses also don’t necessarily have to agree on who will receive ownership of their pets. In some instances, spouses allow the court to make this decision for them.
Divorcing spouses do not always agree to sole ownership arrangements. In these cases, they may be able to negotiate a shared ownership agreement. As the name implies, the agreement would outline the rights and responsibilities of each spouse concerning the pet. Each would be entitled to certain amounts of time with the pet, and each would likely contribute to the costs of feeding and housing the pet.
The arrangement should state how often each spouse will keep the pet and for how long. Negotiating such an agreement can take place during mediation. With the help of their attorneys, both spouses can work out their obligations to their pet and each other.
If you and your spouse can’t negotiate a shared ownership agreement, the pet will likely become part of the property division process. Therefore, you and your attorney will need to put forth an argument explaining why you deserve ownership of your pets more than your spouse.
In some instances, it’s obvious who is more deserving of pet ownership. If one spouse is abusive or neglectful, the other spouse should have ownership. Or, if the children are very fond of a pet, it may be best to grant ownership to the parent who’s receiving custody of the children. This could help ease the pain of the divorce for a child.