Pets in Divorces
Many people wonder what their rights and responsibilities would be to family pets during a divorce. It may come as a surprise (or it may not), that in Florida, courts do not award “visitation” with pets. Rather, family pets by law are seen as assets or essentially personal property. While this makes logical sense (as pets are not people), litigants are sometimes emotionally devastated when they realize that they may have to leave a family pet behind.
So, if you and your spouse to have a family pet, and are considering divorce, some difficult decisions may be coming down the line. Many children, for example, are especially attached to the family pet; in cases like these, it often makes sense for the primary residential parent to keep the family pet. On the flip side, many older adults often own a pet that they consider to be their “child”, and these pets often offer emotional support to their owner. In situations such as this, the Judge may have to make a difficult decision in taking away the pet from one spouse and awarding it to the other spouse.
Oftentimes, the best way to resolve the issue of dividing pets (and your divorce in general) is to reach an agreement at mediation or beforehand. In this way, you and your spouse have some control over the outcome, as opposed to leaving the outcome to the whims of the Judge. Mediation allows for creative solutions (for example, sharing or rotating a pet) that might not be possible in the context of a trial.