Who Gets the Dog in Divorce in Florida?

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Written by Whitney R. Lonker, Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.
wlonker@woodatter.com

Well, you’ve divided up your property, split the bank accounts, decided child custody or time-sharing and on the amout of child support to be paid but who gets the family dog or pet? Oftentimes this big little life is forgotten when dividing up the property in a dissolution and it turns out to be a really big deal in the end when deciding who will get the love of the family. There are no real statutes in Florida that deal directly with what to consider when deciding to whom the pet should go but it has always been my argument that the courts should use the best interests standard that is used in child custody/time sharing determinations. It is apparent that this little innocent life should be treated as any innocent life that can’t make decisions for itself. The party who can best provide for the little one and who has shown the most consideration for the animal’s best interests should be the party to get the animal at the end of the dissolution. But oftentimes, our furry little loved ones are treated as property and given an economic value in court. If the economic division of property is unequal, the courts may give our furry family member to a party to equalize the value of property distribution. Please think about this when you are in mediation and do not forget to discuss the furry members of your family and how they should be treated in the dissolution process. For more informaton on this issue, please call our firm for expert advice.