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Fighting over Fido? How to avoid pet custody problems in divorce

If you decide that your marriage is no longer viable, you will likely have to make many decisions as you move toward a divorce settlement. Florida laws that govern such matters will no doubt influence your decisions, especially if you are a parent. Divorce is never easy, even when both spouses agree that it is the best course of action in a particular situation.  

One decision that can be surprisingly emotional to make in a divorce is determining whether you or your spouse will have custody of your pet. It's not uncommon for people to bring pets into a marriage, meaning you or your spouse already had a dog or cat (or bird or whatever) when you started dating, and the pet became an automatic member of your household when you married.  

Creating a successful pet care plan 

While animals are far from being humans, you no doubt love your pet as you do your other family members. In fact, if you and your spouse do not happen to have children, your pet may be like a child in your life, and the thought of never seeing it again due to divorce can be quite upsetting. The following practical ideas can help you and your spouse devise a fair and amicable pet plan:  

  • During marriage, which of you carried out most of the pet responsibilities in your household? Were such duties equally shared, or did one of you provide most of the pet care? 
  • Do you and your spouse both spend a lot of free time with your pet? If your spouse barely has any interaction with your pet, it would be logical to assume that there is no reason to keep you from having full custody of your pet after divorce. 
  • What about veterinarian and food expenses? Have you and your spouse always shared the financial cost of having a pet?
  • If you have children, where they live full time after your divorce may influence your pet-custody decisions.  

It also matters where you will be living as you begin a new lifestyle after divorce. If you are moving into a house or apartment that does not allow pets, then the answer regarding pet custody is plain to see. If you have more than one pet, you will want to create a pet plan that addresses the care and provisions for each. Some people develop shared custody plans for their pets, similar to shared child custody, where the pet lives with each spouse for a certain amount of time throughout the year.  

If you disagree 

Just as the Florida court can intervene in situations where parents disagree about child custody, support or visitation issues, you can pursue litigation for legal problems that arise that pertain to your pets as well.

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Toll Free: 888-895-9027
Phone: 561-328-0718
Fax: 561-253-6353