Starting January 2022, Spain will legally recognize all animals as “sentient beings” with emotions rather than “property”, making sure that, in legal fights, the wellbeing of pets is considered above all else.
Read more here
For many families, a pet is considered another member of the family (sometimes the most loved part of their family).
So it’s no surprise that custody of a pet can become contentious.
So who does get Fido?
Pets Are Considered Marital Property
Although you and your soon-to-be-ex may view your pet as a member of the family, Florida’s divorce laws do not. Florida courts treat pets as marital property, not family members.
And as property, your cherished pet will be part of the equitable distribution along with your furniture, coin collection, or other assets.
How Does Florida Law Decide Who Keeps the Pet?
Your pet is considered personal property, which means pet custody, timesharing, and visitation are not concepts open for discussion. This means your pet’s future will be determined as part of the equitable distribution of assets. The court will determine if the pet is a marital or nonmarital asset, who takes care of the pet and often, the judge will award it to the parent who has physical custody of the children.
Marital and Non-Marital Assets
If the pet was acquired before the marriage, it is considered a non-marital asset. The person who brought it into the marriage keeps it after the divorce.
If the pet was acquired during the marriage, it is considered a marital asset and will be treated as property. One party will get custody and there are no visitation mandates under Florida law.
Can You Prevent a Pet from Being Treated as Property?
Instead of allowing the court to determine which spouse gets to keep the pet, you could negotiate a shared pet custody schedule. That way your pet will not be treated as property in court and both spouses can divide spending time with it. You can discuss pet custody in negotiations, mediation, and/or the collaborative divorce process.
Do you need an attorney to handle your divorce? Not necessarily. Martin L. Hoffman, Esq. shares when to go it alone and when to retain an attorney here.
What to look for in a family law attorney? Many attorneys advertise that they take an aggressive approach; some talk about collaboration.
It is the experienced attorney who knows what approach will produce the optimal outcome for their client.
Why Hoffman, Larin and Agnetti? 35 years of Family Law experience but let our clients tell you.