Pets are an integral part of our families. We invest time, energy, and love in caring for our dogs and cats. The love and companionship they provide is consistent and without condition.
When pet owners are involved in a divorce, who gets custody of the family pet? Though we view pets as part of the family, Florida law is clear – your pet is considered a piece of personal property, similar to a piece of furniture or other household items. Florida law, and the law of most states, does not provide for the concept of pet custody, nor does it provide for pet visitation or timesharing. This is a tough concept to grasp and another reason to work on an amicable separation and mediation to come to an agreement regarding your pet, rather than go to court.
If the pet was acquired during the marriage, the pet is a marital asset and is subject to equitable distribution. Obviously, a pet cannot be divided up like a bank account; however, a pet can be assigned a value like any other piece of personal property, and arguments can be made as to why the pet should go with one spouse or the other. If the pet is non-marital, “custody” goes to the spouse who acquired the pet.