There is any number of contentious issues in a Florida divorce. Whether it be alimony, child support, child custody, or asset division, one party is likely going to feel like they got the short end of the stick. Often, one of the most contentious of these issues is custody. While it usually revolves around the custody of children, there are other loved ones in your life that can be subject to custody issues in Florida. This even includes pets.
Pet custody can be a contentious issue during a divorce, especially when both spouses are attached to the animal. Legally speaking, the law views a pet in the same standing as a child. Thus, any decision on custody will be made that is in the best interest of the animal. Still, when custody of your pet is on the line, you’ll want to make sure that you know how the law applies and what factors are considered in the decision.
Robert Sparks Attorneys Can Help You
When you’re in a divorce, everything in your life will change. Robert Sparks Attorneys has the skills and experience necessary to make sure that your interests are protected. This includes ensuring that you get custody of your pet. Being in a divorce is never easy, but with our team of experienced Florida divorce attorneys on your side, you can be sure that you’ll have the support and guidance you need. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Florida Divorce Law and Equitable Distribution
Florida follows the principle of equitable distribution, which means that all marital assets and debts will be divided fairly between the parties. This does not necessarily mean an equal 50/50 split, but rather a division that is deemed fair and equitable by the court. In order to make this decision, the court will consider various factors to determine what is fair and equitable in each particular case.
The factors that a court uses to determine equitable distribution include the following, as set forth in Florida Statute §61.075:
- The duration of the marriage
- The income and earning potential of each spouse
- The contributions of each spouse to the marriage, both financial and non-financial
- The current financial situation of each spouse
- The health and age of each spouse
- Any prenuptial agreements that were entered into by the spouses
As it relates to pets, they are looked at as personal property. As such, they are subject to asset division in a divorce.
How Is Pet Custody Determined During a Divorce in Florida?
In Florida, pets are considered personal property, and as such, their custody is determined as part of the property division process during a divorce. If the parties cannot agree on who will keep the pet, the court will make the determination based on the same factors used to determine the equitable distribution of other personal property.
When determining pet custody, the court will consider factors such as:
- Who is primarily responsible for the pet’s care – The court may consider who has been the primary caregiver for the pet, who takes care of its daily needs, who provides veterinary care, and who spends the most time with the pet.
- Who has a stronger bond with the pet – The court may also consider which spouse has a stronger emotional attachment to the pet and has a closer bond with it.
- The ability of each spouse to care for the pet – The court may consider each spouse’s living situation, work schedule, and financial resources to determine who is better able to provide for the pet’s needs.
- Any agreements made by the spouses – If the spouses have a prenuptial agreement or other agreement that addresses pet custody, the court will consider its terms.
In some cases, the court may award joint custody of the pet, allowing both spouses to continue to care for the pet after the divorce. In other cases, the court may award custody to one spouse and require the other spouse to provide financial support for the pet’s care.
Can You Appeal a Pet Custody Decision in Florida?
In Florida, pets are generally considered to be personal property, and therefore, pet custody decisions are typically addressed as part of the property division process in a divorce. However, as pets are often viewed as members of the family, some courts in Florida have started to recognize the unique bond between people and their pets, and have begun to consider the best interests of the pet when making decisions about pet custody.
If a pet custody decision is made as part of a divorce case in Florida, it may be possible to appeal the decision, but the specific procedures and requirements will depend on the circumstances of your case.
Generally, to appeal a pet custody decision in Florida, you would need to:
- File a notice of appeal with the clerk of the court that issued the order, just as you would for any other appeal.
- Demonstrate that the lower court made an error in its decision, such as failing to consider important factors when determining the best interests of the pet.
Overall, a pet custody decision is ultimately a part of the larger divorce process. Thus, it’s extremely important to make sure your pet and their best interests are protected. Your best chance of doing so is having our team of experienced Florida divorce attorneys on your side. We can help explain the custody process and how to best position your claim for custody of your pet.
Going Through a Divorce in Florida? Contact Robert Sparks Attorneys
At Robert Sparks Attorneys, we know how difficult and emotional a divorce can be. When custody of your pet is at stake, it can exacerbate what is already a stressful situation. Whether you believe sole custody of your pet is best or if you want to share custody with your ex-spouse, our team can help. Through our experience, we’ll be able to guide your decision and make sure that your interests are always protected. If you would like to discuss your options, contact us today for a free consultation.