Divorce can be very difficult. Having to divide everything from bank accounts to your personal property and establishing a timesharing plan that works for everyone can make for some very difficult conversations. We often talk about how child custody plays out in a divorce, or separation (as it is a popular topic amongst our clients); but, one surprising question we are asked more commonly than you might think, is: how the custody of a family’s pets is determined. Specifically, are there a set of guidelines in place for pet custody?
Do ‘Pet Custody’ Guidelines Exist?
Unfortunately, there are no rules for pet custody in Florida or any other states for that matter. This makes things very difficult as pets are often considered much more than ‘property.’ Many people consider their pets to be part of their family, so having no rules which outline how pet custody is handled makes things much more difficult. And, I am sure you’re wondering, ff there are no specific guidelines for pet custody, then who gets to keep the pets?
How Pet Custody is Determined
As far as divorce in Florida is concerned, pets are considered to be personal property. As such, the value of your pets as determined by the court is dependent on the monetary value of your pets. As you might imagine, this can be very hard to accurately assess. How do you place a financial value on your family’s pets?
Unfortunately, there are no real guidelines to help judges determine who should be awarded custody of their pets. As a result, pet custody is entirely dependent on your judge and how he or she chooses to handle the situation. For example, your judge may decide to grant your partner custody of your pets and give you monetary compensation. In other cases, judges have chosen to grant a couple joint custody of their pets.
As a result of these vague guidelines, your best option is to work with your spouse outside of court to come to a decision. While this can be a very difficult conversation to have, it can save both of you a lot of time and trouble in the future. For help navigating your divorce, you should talk to an experienced family law attorney. A family attorney can help you with issues such as child support, child custody, and alimony. The Law Offices of Alexander Borell offers free initial consultations to people in need of a family law attorney in Miami, West Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa.