Orlando Pet Custody Attorney
You and your spouse are splitting up. You’re splitting up your vehicles, money, furniture, house, and other assets. You don’t have children but you have dogs. Naturally, you may wonder: what happens to the dogs? Who gets custody of them?
If you don’t have pets, you may not think of this as a serious topic. However, many Florida families treat their dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and other pets as children. This has divorcing couples wondering about the future of their beloved pets.
So what will happen to your pets when you and your spouse divorce? Orlando pet custody attorney Steve W. Marsee, P.A. Attorney at Law explains state laws so you know what to expect.
What the Law Says
While many pet owners consider their pets to be children, the law does not see it that way. Under Florida law, pets are treated as property and are therefore subject to the laws of property division. Pets are classified and distributed according to state law. This means that the parties will have to determine the best way to split their time with their pets. If they cannot agree, then they will have to have the courts decide.
Typically, your pet would have to live with one person or the other. Florida courts have no authority to award visitation or custody of a cat, dog, or other pet. If you and your ex-spouse want visitation, then that is something you will have to agree on with your ex-spouse.
The best interests of the children apply in child custody cases, but the same laws do not apply to pets. However, if you decide to let the judge make a decision regarding ownership of the family pet, they will consider factors such as:
- The value of the pet and the contributions of each spouse (such as feeding, grooming, and vet visits)
- Each party’s ability to care for the pet.
- Child custody arrangements. If there are children involved, a judge may consider awarding the pet to the custodial parent
If you get the pet before you are married and provide the majority of its care, then your pet may be considered separate, or non-marital property. This means it would not be split in a divorce.
Most states have no pet custody laws in place. Just a handful—California, Illinois, and Alaska—allow for pet custody, although more and more states could adopt pet custody laws in the future.
Contact Us Today
More and more couples are forgoing having children and instead have dogs, cats, and other pets. In a divorce, both parties may fight over the pets, just like they would a child. This can complicate matters.
What rights do you have? Orlando pet custody attorney Steve W. Marsee, P.A. Attorney at Law can help you understand Florida law as it applies to the custody of pets in a divorce. Get started today with a free consultation. Fill out the online form or call 407-521-7171.