So, you are going through a divorce. You and your former spouse have come to an agreement on personal property division. You agree on what becomes of the marital home, pension, and the bank accounts. But, who gets the family dog, cat or other pets?
You may be surprised by the answer.
Because there are no actual statutes in Florida that directly address the issue of pets in a divorce, our “furry family members” are actually treated as property. They are given a monetary value and are subjected to the laws of equitable distribution.
Much like all other personal property, if you can prove that your “fur baby” is your separate (non-marital) property - meaning you acquired the pet before you married - you have a solid case for keeping your pet. However, it is best to have tangible proof that your pet was acquired premaritally.
Examples of tangible proof of ownership include:
- A copy of your bill of sale
- A bill dated prior to marriage that preferably refers to your pet by name or breed
- Receipts for pet supplies or pet food
These would substantiate your claim that you owned the pet prior to your marriage.
If your pet was given only to you as a gift by a person other than your spouse, the case could be made that your pet should stay with you. However, there is some difficulty in proving the receipt of the gift.
Given the nature of Florida law, the issue of pet ownership is best resolved outside of the courtroom. Ask yourself, while looking forward to your life after divorce, if your post-divorce arrangement will be conducive to owning a pet. Try to come to an objective agreement with your former spouse to determine who is best equipped to care for your animal. Consider your resources, daily schedule and living arrangements. If minor children are involved, it is best to consider what role your furry family member plays in their lives.
For a consultation on this or other Family and Divorce Law matters, contact Cox Law Firm, PA.