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West Palm Beach Divorce Attorney > Blog > Family Law > Divorce, Florida Law, and Pet Guardianship

Divorce, Florida Law, and Pet Guardianship


When it comes to beloved pets, there can be disputes surrounding which spouse will take the animals when the couple choose to separate. Working through the complexities of pet guardianship during a Florida divorce requires careful consideration. And even though pets are considered property in the eyes of Florida law, their emotional significance to one or both spouses often warrants special attention.

To explore what happens to pets when a Florida couple divorces, talk to a West Palm Beach family attorney. Plus, if you are wondering how you can ensure the custody of your furry friend, legal professionals have the expertise you need and they can step in to help you achieve the divorce agreement you want.

How to Secure Custody of Your Pet

Often viewed as far more than animals, dogs, cats, and other pets are often cherished members of the family. Because of this, divorcing couples may find themselves entangled in emotional disputes over pets. It is important to realize that pets are personal property under Florida law, so they can be treated similarly to assets and possessions acquired during the course of marriage.

When pet ownership is disputed, a Florida family court will consider a range of factors to determine a pet custody. Some considerations will include the financial and emotional investment each spouse has made in the pet, for example.

Spouses who are able to make an agreement without going to court will have more control over final outcomes. Ideally, one of the following solutions can be part of the process.

  • Negotiate in good faith. It is normal to have disagreements, but negotiating with your spouse amicably is likely in the best interests of all involved. Then, you can reach an optimal agreement on pet custody, whether this involves shared custody arrangements, visitation schedules, or a clear determination of which pet will be the sole owner of which pet moving forward.
  • Establish a primary caregiver. If you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse want to set up a shared custody arrangement, you will still want to have one person noted as the pet’s primary caregiver. This is essential so it is clear who will be responsible for the financial and time commitments that come with feeding animals and providing veterinary care.
  • Consider mediation. When an agreement is not in reach, mediation could be an effective way to address pet custody without going to court. When you go through a mediation process, a neutral third party facilitates discussions, assisting and allowing disputing parties to reach a mutually agreeable solution.

Including Pet Provisions in the Divorce Agreement

Working with a lawyer allows you to include specific provisions regarding pet custody in the divorce agreement. Whether you want to support your interests through negotiation, mediation, or court representation, a seasoned West Palm Beach family attorney can help.

Is who will get custody of the family pets a question that is troubling you as you move toward a separation or divorce? Talk to the legal team at Bruce S. Rosenwater & Associates. Schedule your free initial consultation today.

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