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Who gets the family pet?

I recently received a call from a gentleman who was preparing for a divorce, and he was concerned about a custody issue. Interestingly, the couple had no children during the marriage. He wanted to understand his rights to custody of a pet, in this case a dog.

In a divorce, the question often arises: Who gets to keep the family pet?   Florida family laws are designed to protect the best interests of children in divorce.  Based upon a myriad of factors, the court will determine what it believes to serve the interests of children due to social, economic, educational, emotional and other factors that will serve the children’s interests, and assign custody accordingly.  Pets are not given to either of the divorcing parties based upon this standard.  Rather, pets continue to be viewed by the law and courts as personal property.  Therefore, the court will award the family pet or pets to one of the parties based upon the equitable distribution standard.

Pets that were acquired by one of the parties prior to the divorce will remain the property of that party.  Pets obtained by the parties during the marriage will be assigned to a party based upon the equitable distribution doctrine, which uses a variety of economic considerations to divide property in a fair and just manner.  More information about the equitable distribution doctrine can be found HERE.

If you need to discuss your rights in a Florida dissolution of marriage action, contact us at any time.

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