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Who keeps the dog in a Florida divorce?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Divorce

When your marriage is coming to an end, it’s understandable that your top priority is to make sure your children’s best interests are in mind as your family moves forward in life and adapts to a new lifestyle. Children fare best when they maintain healthy, active relationships with both parents. However, if your ex poses a risk to their well-being, a Florida divorce court may determine it best to award you full custody.

Once you work out an agreement regarding the children, you must resolve other issues, as well, such as who will keep the family dog. You, your children and your ex might consider your dog a family member. Florida divorce laws consider pets as personal property. In this state, pets are part of property division proceedings, not custody proceedings.

Florida is an equitable distribution state in divorce

Like most states, Florida operates under equitable property rules in a divorce. This means that the court will determine a fair split of all assets and liabilities, although not necessarily a 50/50 division. You obviously can’t split a dog in half. Therefore, the court must award the dog as an asset to one spouse or the other.

The court makes decisions based on the individual merits of each case. To determine who gets a dog in a divorce, the judge overseeing your case considers numerous factors. For example, did you or your ex spend more time with the pet during marriage? Were one of you more responsible for the dog’s daily care and exercise routine? Who took it to the vet? Is the dog more loyal to one spouse than the other?

Negotiating terms of agreement

You and your ex might be able to negotiate terms of agreement regarding the family dog when you are heading to divorce court. For example, you might agree that the dog is to be wherever the children are. If you’re sharing custody of the kids, then the dog will travel back and forth with them.

It’s best to place all terms of agreement in writing and to seek the court’s approval. If a dispute arises during proceedings or after you’ve agreed to a settlement, you may need to seek the court’s intervention if you’re unable to resolve the issue on your own in a swift and amicable manner. Keep in mind that a fair settlement is the goal, and if you believe you are not getting a fair deal, you do not have to sign an agreement. Understanding property division rules is the key to protecting your interests in a Florida divorce.