Who Gets the Pet in a Florida Divorce?

In Florida, when couples decide to divorce, some mistakenly believe that one or the other will get sole custody of the family pet. It seems to make good sense since our pets are considered to be members of the family. The laws in Florida however, deem pets as marital property. Therefore, when divorcing in Tampa Bay and Florida pets are subjected to Florida’s equitable distribution laws. Unless you can prove that the pet was purchased before you were married (non marital property) you and your spouse will have to decide how the pet(s) will be divided. If you cannot agree, and should your case go to trial in full or in part, a judge may rule on the matter.

Are Pets Non- Marital Property?

If you or your spouse purchased or owned the pet prior to getting married, it should be considered non-marital or separate property. This means that that the judge will consider the history of ownership and other factors when determining the “distribution” of the pet. Whether you paid a fortune for Fido or not, your beloved pet will be treated as something with monetary rather than sentimental value. Given that, it may be in everyone’s best interest to negotiate a plan that permits pet sharing. We realize that negotiating a pet sharing plan may not work for many. In fact, we know that matters pertaining to pets and children are most likely to be the matters that turn contentious in an otherwise amicable divorce.

“Whether amicable or not, contested or uncontested, we are committed to providing our clients with honest, straightforward advice and legal counsel that looks to your best interests and the best interest of your family–including your pets!”

(Read: Non-marital / Separate Property)

Child Custody, Timesharing and the Family Pets

Divorce, child custody Tampa BayFlorida Law and the courts look to the monetary value of a pet but they also look to the best interests of the minor children. Divorcing spouses with children can be open to negotiating a pet sharing plan, even when it seems impossible. Our attorneys have successfully negotiated pet sharing plans when it seemed highly unlikely. Remember, Florida family courts look favorably upon divorcing couples who focus on their minor children. If your children (like most) have a close bond with their pet, and you expect your spouse to object to a pet sharing plan, we won’t be afraid to litigate on your behalf if you choose to do so. There may be situations where “pet-sharing” wouldn’t be feasible, however. Additionally, litigating a pet sharing plan under equitable distribution laws that govern pets and divorce, might be futile and costly. Every situation and every divorce is different. If you expect that your spouse will fight to the bitter end over the pet, it’s not unreasonable to assume that they will be contentious or combative in other areas such as alimony, child support and child custody. For this reason, it is highly beneficial to consult with a Tampa Divorce Attorney who will provide you with sound legal counsel.

Calm, Focused Divorce & Family Law Legal Strategies & Solutions

Although most divorces settle out of court, some do end up going to trial (litigation) to settle matters such as who gets the family pet. Experience tells us that when problems and emotions run high over one matter, it can have a trickle down effect. Our Tampa divorce attorneys are fierce negotiators providing calm, focused legal counsel and representation in a variety of family law matters. Whether negotiating equitable distribution and the family pet, child custody & parenting plans or alimony– our focus is to lead the clients we represent into a safe and secure future.


Consult with Tampa Family Law Attorneys, Nilo J Sanchez & Associates

Nilo J Sanchez & Associates is a full service Tampa Family Law Firm. We have over 25 years of experience in Florida Family Law. We represent people in family law and divorce matters in the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County and the 6th Judicial Circuit in Pasco and Pinellas County. For questions or to schedule a family law or divorce consultation, call
813-879-4600 or use the form below to reach out to us. Zoom, In-Person and Telephonic Consultations are available for your convenience.