Retirements, benefits, property, custody - all things couples fight over in a divorce. They are laws that protect your rights surrounding each of these, but what would happen to your pet should you get a divorce?
In Florida, pets are considered property, which means that only one spouse will keep them. Custody guidelines in Florida do not apply to dogs, cats, or any other family pets. You cannot get visitation rights or custody rights for a pet. The court will instead award ownership since they are considered property. If you have questions about what will happen to your pet during and after divorce, contact our family law attorneys in Miami for help.
This law dates back to the 1990s in a case known as Bennett v Bennett when a divorcing couple could not agree on who would take the dog. A trial court ended up awarding custody to the husband and visitation rights to the wife, much like a child custody case.
However, the two kept filing motions to modify these arrangements, and the case eventually found its way into the appellate court (or appeals court). This sparked a debate in the already crowded child custody court and resulted in pets falling under property during divorces.
If you owned your pet before your marriage, then your pet will be considered separate property and thus excluded from the process of equal distribution. If you got your pet during a marriage, you would likely need a Miami family law lawyer, as the pet will fall under equitable distribution, meaning there will be a judicial decision of property rights between both spouses in the divorce, whether through a property settlement or judicial decree.