How Does Pet Custody Work With Divorce in Florida? 

How Does Pet Custody Work With Divorce in Florida? 

We love our pets like one of our own children, so who gets the pup when it’s time to split up? Pet custody in Florida is a technical subject that we will dive into.

It may come as a surprise to you that under Florida law, pets are considered property.  This means that they are not subject to time sharing arrangements like children are.


Because your pet is considered to be property under Florida law, it will be subject to equitable distribution.  This means your pet must be owned by one party or the other in the divorce. The courts in Florida have no authority to grant custody or visitation of a dog, cat, or other pet. 


Also surprisingly, judges are not asked to consider the best interests of the pet when determining who will retain ownership.


When determining who will get ownership of the family pet, a judge may consider the following factors:


  • The monetary value of the pet and the contribution of each spouse to that value. “Contributions” may be everything from who paid for the pet, to who takes care of the pet’s needs on a daily basis (vet visits, feeding, grooming etc).
  • Each spouse’s ability to care for the pet.
  • Child custody arrangements: a judge may consider awarding the pet to the custodial parent (if there are children involved).

Is it possible to share time with your spouse when it comes to who gets the pet?

The answer is yes, but not by court order. If you can maintain an amicable relationship with your soon-to-be former spouse, you may be able to arrange an informal agreement where the non-owner still gets visitation time with the beloved pet.  Because pets are considered property, any time sharing arrangement would need to be agreed upon by both parties outside of the legal division of assets and custody. 


What is the most common solution for pet custody?

When kids are involved, it is a good idea that the pet will travel back and forth with children. Ultimately however, these arrangements will be something that you and your spouse would need to agree to and coordinate, and will not be court ordered in Florida.


How To Get Pet Custody In Florida

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