Who Gets Custody of Pets in a Divorce?

Posted on: Categories: Divorce Law

For many of us, pets are more than just cute animals, and are rather part of the family. They bring so much into our lives and many of us truly couldn’t imagine life without them. That is exactly what pet owners going through a divorce have to do, however, and the thought of never seeing your beloved pet again, let alone them living with someone who may have caused you significant emotional pain, can be an especially difficult one. When a couple with pets gets a divorce, who gets custody of the pets can be an extremely difficult conversation. Read on to learn more about custody of pets.

What Does Florida Divorce Law Say?

We all know that pets are so much more than property. However, in Florida, pets are actually considered property. Because they are considered property, they are subject to equitable distribution as is the case with other marital property that married couple must divide up in the event of a divorce, like home assets, cars, and joint checking accounts.

What Does This Mean for My Divorce?

This means that spouses may negotiate for ownership of the pet as they might with other property. For example, one spouse could give up ownership of the pet in exchange for another item of marital property, such as a car or house. However, if one spouse brought the pet into the marriage, they generally have the right to keep that pet.

Can We Agree to a Visitation Schedule?

Couples are absolutely able to agree to a visitation schedule for a pet, but courts generally do not weigh in on these kinds of arrangements as they would with a child custody arrangement. What this means is that you usually cannot not go to court to get this order enforced in the event your former spouse does not abide by its provisions. These kinds of arrangements are treated as private agreements between parties, so it is important that you and your spouse work together to negotiate custody of your pet.

When you and your spouse create this kind of visitation schedule, you should discuss the kinds of intervals at which each of you will take custody of your pet. You should also discuss how you will share your pets expenses, like vet, food, and kenneling costs. Additionally, you will want to discuss how major decisions for the pet, such as medical care, will be made.

Prenup and Postnup Provisions

Couples are able to specify what should happen to pets in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, and these can be incredibly effective tools for mitigating the stress and emotional turbulence that comes from negotiating pet custody in a divorce. If you are getting married and you and your future spouse know you want a pet, or if you have recently married and you are planning to welcome a pet into your home, talk to an experienced family law attorney about your prenup and postnup options.

Questions About How a Divorce Will Affect Custody of Your Pet?

The experienced family law attorneys at Blair H. Chan, III, PLLC have helped many divorce clients with pet custody agreements, and are ready to help you if you are going through a divorce and concerned about your pet. Contact us today.