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Seminole & Largo Injury Lawyers > Blog > Divorce > Who Gets Custody Of The Family Pets In Divorce?

Who Gets Custody Of The Family Pets In Divorce?


Pets are considered beloved family members in many people’s homes. Unfortunately, this means they are just as likely to be impacted by an impending divorce. Major problems can develop concerning who gets custody of them. Our Pinellas County divorce attorney explains some of the practical matters that must be considered and how Florida divorce law applies to pets.

Dealing With Pets In A Pinellas County Divorce

According to a recent American Pet Products Survey, roughly 70 percent of all U.S. households own at least one pet. Dogs and cats are among the most popular and are the ones we will primarily address, but guidelines for dealing with them in divorce can apply to birds, snakes, hamsters, and other animals too.

Matters addressed in divorce include marital property division, spousal support, and child custody and visitation. Unfortunately, pets can easily get overlooked in these proceedings, and, divorce is one of the most common reasons for them to end up in animal shelters.

As many people think of pets as their children, determining ownership should be a top priority. Factors to consider when dealing with pets in a Pinellas County divorce include:

  • Who currently devotes the bulk of time and attention to the pet;
  • The amount of care the pet needs and whether each party can work it into their schedules;
  • Each party’s housing situation post-divorce and whether pets are permitted;
  • Whether there are children involved, who likely have formed strong attachments to the pet.

Can I Sue For Custody Of Pets In Divorce?

While dogs, cats, and other pets are often treated the same as children, it is important to be aware of how they are viewed under Florida Statutes. While it may seem harsh, rather than being dealt with in custody proceedings, ownership of pets is actually determined as part of marital property division. This means instead of creating a pet parenting plan, you will need to negotiate rights to ownership, the same as with other marital property and assets. Factors to consider during these negotiations:

  • The current and future financial value of the pet: Pure breeds can be worth significant amounts of money.
  • The role of the pet in each party’s life: One of the spouses may be given priority if the pet serves as a guide or emotional support animal.
  • The cost of providing for the pet: This should be factored into the value and negotiations;
  • Other marital property involved: If you are set on retaining ownership of the pet, you may be able to trade your interest in other marital property to achieve your goal.

Discuss Your Options With Our Pinellas County Divorce Attorney

People typically have strong emotional attachments to their pets, and it can be a major source of stress dealing with them in divorce proceedings. To discuss your options in terms of retaining custody, reach out to The Reep Law Firm. Call or contact our Pinellas County divorce attorney online to schedule a consultation today.




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