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Pet Ownership And Divorce Agreements


Many report having pets in their home helps to reduce stress, and the furry friends provide companionship. Because they are such an important part of people’s lives, it is common for people to view their pets as members of the family. So when a marriage ends, it can be difficult for spouses to agree on who the pets will live with once the divorce is finalized. And unlike children, pets are considered property in Florida, and as such, are subject to equitable distribution during a divorce.

To talk through what you expect is happening with your pets now and what you want to happen in the future, meet with a Tampa family lawyer. A skilled lawyer can guide you through the process of drafting a divorce agreement, including adding information that pertains to pet ownership.

Factors to Consider When It Comes to Pets

In Florida, courts will look at several factors to determine who will get custody of a family pet.

  • Did one person purchase the pet individually?
  • Who takes care of the daily needs of the pet?
  • Does one individual have a stronger emotional attachment to the pet?
  • Is financial ability to care for the pet a concern?

Along with these factors, a court may consider any arrangements made by the parties himself regarding the pet in the past.

While you and your spouse may have had a conversation about where a dog or cat will live once a divorce is finalized, a way to ensure that the pet is taken care of and remains with the desired party is to include provisions connected to pet ownership within the terms of a divorce agreement. This agreement should outline who will have custody of the pet, who will be responsible for the pet’s care, and any other relevant information regarding the pet’s well-being.

When the ex-spouses are able to communicate effectively, there could be a path to sharing the ownership of an animal, such as alternating months, but in most situations, spouses agree to one person taking over the care of a dog, cat, or other pet. In households where there are multiple animals, a solution may be one in which one person keeps the dogs and the other keeps the cats, for example.

Pet Ownership Can Complicate Divorce Negotiations

Because it is common for people to emotionally bond with their pets, there are situations when pet ownership conversations are an area of dispute. If you have questions, bring them to a Tampa attorney who specializes in family law and can provide guidance on pet ownership in divorce proceedings. Even when it feels like there is no solution, there is, and a skilled Tampa family lawyer can guide you toward a resolution.

Is pet ownership an issue for you and your spouse? An experienced divorce attorney can provide assistance in navigating the legal aspects of pet ownership during divorce, including drafting and enforcing a divorce agreement. Speak to the legal team at Blair H. Chan, III to learn about what is possible for you. Call 813-202-7831 to schedule a consultation.

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