Most dog owners consider their dog part of the family. Just like humans, dogs have distinct personalities and emotions. Dogs develop bonds with the members of their household. Even if the dog favors one human more than the rest, they still have meaningful relationships with the other humans. If you or a loved one is going through a divorce, you may be surprised how tense dog custody can get between former partners. When two exes can’t agree on an arrangement, pet custody will be left up to the court. In this article, we will explain who gets the dog in a divorce in Florida.
Value of a Pet Dog
While it may sound harsh, the court considers your pet dog as property. The dog will be brought up as an asset when you and your ex go through the process of dividing your assets. Unlike most of the other assets you and your ex accumulated over the years that can be appraised, the court may struggle to establish a value for the dog. How can you put a monetary value to the love of a pet? You and your ex will try to agree to a value in mediation. If you and your ex can’t find a common ground, the court will decide.
Some people may try to leverage pet ownership in the divorce negotiations. Is a pet dog equal the value of a piece of furniture? A car? A retirement account? Custody of human children? Ultimately, the dog is worth however much the other party will offer for it.
Another popular solution is to share custody of the dog. A custody agreement will be drawn up, clarifying who has custody on what days. You’ll also have to share responsibility for medical expenses and pick who can make decisions regarding the dog’s care. in the end, it’s usually best for the dog to have one, stable home.
Considerations Used by the Court
While the dog is legally considered property and if division cannot be agreed up on, it may be settled in court. According to Robert Sparks, a Tampa Divorce Lawyer, the court may consider several factors when determining custody of your dog. This may include things like who spends the most time caring for the dog, who has the ability to continue caring for the dog, and any prior agreements made by the couple such as a pre-nuptial agreement.
Suitable Living Environment
If you want to get the dog in the divorce, you need to prove that you can properly care for the dog. You will need a stable home for the dog and enough money to buy its basic necessities.
Who Bought the Dog
The court will want to know who bought the dog and when. It takes a significant amount of effort, money, and love to find a dog and bring them into your life. If you bought the dog before the relationship started as a companion for yourself, the dog will be considered premarital property. However, if you bought the dog during the commingling stage of the relationship, it can be seen as marital property. If you and your ex bought the dog together while you were dating, it can complicate things.
Time Spent Bonding and Caring for the Dog
In a perfect world, a couple will split responsibilities for a pet dog together. However, that’s not always how it works out. If you were the one who fed the dog and took them for a walk every day, the court will recognize your efforts.
Bond with Children
Some pet dogs are not a companion for one person but the whole family. It would be cruel to keep children away from the family pet. In this situation, the dog will generally live in the household where the children reside the majority of the time.
If your pet dog is a point of contention in your divorce, make sure to express the conflict to a divorce attorney in Florida.