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Pets and Divorce

Our pets are a very important part of our families. For some, our pets are like our children. But what happens to our pets when we divorce? There are many people who feel that spouses should be awarded custody of pets in much the same way as child custody. As much as we may consider that our dog or cat is our baby, in the eyes of the law, pets are property. Generally, in Florida, divorcing couples are required to divide up their marital property in an equitable manner. This means that most likely your pet will be owned by just one party after the divorce is finalized.

Divorce Settlement Terms

As part of the divorce process, couples must resolve and come to an agreement of the main settlement terms. This includes such things as asset and debt division, child custody and visitation, and alimony. These issues need to be ironed out between couples prior to the finalization of the divorce. When couples cannot reach an agreement they may require help. The first line of assistance comes directly through your attorney, who will always work to protect your best interests and knows how to negotiate on your behalf.

Pets as Property

While pets are considered property under the law, there are some special considerations you can make to provide properly for your beloved animal. If the pet belonged to one partner prior to the marriage it technically belongs to that person and is not included in the property division. The same holds true if the pet was received by one person as a gift. However, if the pet was obtained by both people while they were married, the situation can seem unclear. The best situation is for both people to consider the needs of the animal when making the decision regarding who should retain possession.

Children and Pets

When children are involved the process of determining who will keep the pets can become more complex. Remember that the children may be attached to the pet and this should be considered when deciding where the pet should stay. Other things to think about when deciding which party should keep the pet include the space available and the time each person has available to spend caring for the pet. Additionally, there are costs associated with pet ownership. When a person owns the pet himself, these costs are usually his sole responsibility.

Pet Time Sharing

Child custody in Florida is also known as time sharing. Both parents are expected and entitled to spend time with their child. Since dogs and cats are not children, the same rules do not apply. But, pet parents can make special arrangements between each other that will allow them to share time with their pet. For example, the couple may agree that the pet will live primarily with one party but that the other has the opportunity to take the pet for several hours a week. These arrangements may seem like an agreeable solution but in practice may be quite tricky to pull off. There are both advantages and disadvantages to pet sharing after a divorce.

If you are considering divorce with pets, contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family law lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.

By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+

All Family Law Group, P.A.
The law firm of All Family Law Group (Lynette Silon-Laguna, P.A.) provides legal services to the cities of Tampa, Clearwater, Brandon, Riverview, Lakeland, Valrico, Gibsonton, Lithia, Mango, Palm River, Plant City, Seffner, Sun City Center, Apollo Beach, Ruskin, Temple Terrace, Carrollwood, Thonotosassa, Lutz, FishHawk, MacDill Air Force Base, and all of Hillsborough, Pinellas & Polk Counties.

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