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What happens to the dog in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Dec 25, 2023 | Divorce

In 2023, Pew Research reported that about 62% of Americans own a pet with about 97% of them considering the animal a family member. However, the law looks at our furry friends a bit differently.

Florida law views pets as personal property, which means if one partner can show ownership of the pet prior to the marriage, then he or she will often get ownership rights. If the couple got the dog during the marriage, the court may assess various factors to determine the most suitable arrangement for the dog’s well-being.

Best interests

Much like with a child in a custody case, the court considers the best interests of the dog. Factors such as who primarily cares for it, provides veterinary care and ensures adequate exercise and attention all play a role. Courts aim to prioritize the pet’s continued welfare and stability.

Living situations

The living situation of each spouse is also a critical factor. If one spouse has a more pet-friendly home or a yard for the dog to play in, the court may lean towards awarding custody to that spouse. The court’s objective is to maintain a consistent and comfortable environment for the pet.

Financial capability

The court may consider the financial capability of each spouse to care for the dog. This includes factors such as the ability to cover veterinary expenses, grooming costs and general care needs. Demonstrating financial responsibility for the pet may influence the court’s decision.

Emotional connection

Evidence of the emotional connection between each spouse and the dog may also come into play. Testimony regarding the time spent with the dog and the ability to meet the pet’s emotional needs can make an impact.

Deciding who gets the dog in a Florida divorce can be complex. Ideally, the decision will prioritize the happiness and welfare of the furry family member.