Who keeps the Pets after a Divorce under Florida Law?

As a pet owner and experienced divorce lawyer in Miami, I can confirm that the question of which of the spouse keeps the pets after a divorce is one that may go unnoticed up until the division of assets is brought up during a divorce process.

Many families have pets, who are loved and treated as members of the family. Under Florida divorce Law, pets are considered as property.  A Family Law judge cannot order a couple to share custody of a pet as if the pets were children. Instead, only one of the parties will have sole ownership of the pet.

In a divorce,  any marital property is distributed equally between the parties. Since the law addresses pets as property, unless the parties reach an agreement as to who keeps the pet, a Judge will apply the Equitable distribution standard to decide who keeps it.

What happens when only One Spouse owns the Pet?

Only marital property is subject to equitable distribution, separate property will remain with the spouse who obtained it prior to getting married. For example, if a spouse acquired a dog prior to the marriage, then very likely the dog will be treated as separate property, and not be subject to equitable distribution.

Gifts may be considered non-marital property in Florida.

Also, a pet can be treated as separate property if the pet was a gift by a third party. In order to be considered a gift, the pet must have been a gift specifically for one spouse and not the other. In this case, a Pet can be treated as separate property, and equitable distribution will not apply. 

If you need to file for Divorce in Miami or Broward, but are concerned about your pet. Call us at 305-925-0811 or email at Pf@pflawoffice.com to schedule a confidential evaluations.



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