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How to split custody of a pet in a divorce

Florida has one of the highest rates of divorce in the country. While the state peaked in divorces and annulments in 2006 with over 85,000 separations taking place, things have steadily declined. In 2015, the state reported that around 80,000 divorces took place.

The divorcing couple needs to reach conclusions on many topics during a divorce, from asset division to child custody. One topic the media often overlooks is who gets any pets the couple got together, such as a dog or cat. The law is not as specific about who gets pet custody in a divorce, but there are some ways to go about making this process easier. After all, both parties are probably going to want to do what is best for their furry friend.

Reaching a consensus before court proceedings

There is a lot that needs to be worked out during a divorce, and determining pet custody should be one of the simpler things to settle on. One of the subjects people can talk through during mediation is who should get the pet. In this instance, both the former spouses need to figure out who spends the most time with the animal and who would be in a better position to take care of it.

Taking it to court

For a long time, courts viewed pets as property to give to one person over the other. Courts viewed pets the same way as a car or kitchen appliance in that one person gets it. However, some courts have been more open to the idea that pets are more like children and less like appliances. Occasionally, courts do not even bother with pet custody when there are more pressing matters at hand.

Ultimately, it would work out in both people’s best interest to reach a conclusion about how to split custody of pets before a divorce goes to court. Both parties can write up a contract if they want to split custody of the pet. Before this, the former spouses should consider what is best for the animal. It may not work well for a dog or cat to constantly move between two different homes. When in doubt, think about what is best for the animal.

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STH | Stephen T. Holman, P.A. STH | Stephen T. Holman, P.A.

Stephen T. Holman, P.A.
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