What Happens To My Pet If I Get Divorced?
More and more young couples are deciding to have pets instead of children. However, that doesn’t mean that there is not still a number of custody battles involved when a couple calls it quits and gets divorced.
Arranging for pet custody after divorce is becoming more and more complicated as pets become more important to us and our happiness as a society. While, historically, the courts have treated pets similarly to property–such as a piece of furniture–more and more are now recognizing them as sentient creatures whose interests should be taken into account and addressed by the courts when a couple splits up.
Pet Custody in Florida Courts
Florida still operates under the assumption that pets are property and therefore owned by one person or the other. While you can always come to your own written agreement that provides for sharing, visitation, etc., the courts will not use their resources to solidify these types of plans; leaving you—and likely your attorney—to get creative.
That being said, that does not mean that the courts won’t determine ownership. In doing so, they will look at:
- What each spouse contributed;
- Each person’s ability to take care of that pet; and
- (If there are children involved), whether child custody arrangements should be taken into account in determining who gets the family pet.
Still, if a pet was yours before marriage, chances are that it will be considered separate versus marital property, with some exceptions for reimbursement of expenses.
Some couples can likely work out an agreement amongst themselves, or even choose to rely on mediation to help them come up with some kind of agreement. This is because arranging for custody is not the only detail that needs to be put into writing; the issue of vet bills, for example, needs to be addressed if you are sharing the pet post-divorce, as well as how to address a number of circumstances that can come up even though unplanned for, such as medical emergencies.
Using a Prenup
Believe it or not, a prenuptial agreement can also address pet custody issues. In the same way you protect yourself, your assets, and your future, why not also protect your ability to hold onto that important member of your family, even if it is on four legs? Prenups are helpful because they can also be amended as circumstances change; for example, if one of you ends up with a job that requires you to travel most of the year and this affects your ability to take care of Fido.
Contact Our Florida Divorce Attorneys to Find Out More
If you live in Florida and have concerns about marriage, divorce, prenuptial agreements and/or pet custody issues, contact our experienced Florida divorce attorneys at the Arwani Law Firm, PLLC today to find out how we can help.