Pets are considered by many to be family members because of the bond and love shared between the owner and the pet. Florida divorce law, however, views pets are property to be awarded to one spouse or the other, a view that sometimes creates high conflict when spouses cannot agree in their Miami divorce to whom the pet should be awarded.
When spouses cannot agree who gets the family pet in a Florida divorce, the court will consider the same factors it looks at when determining how other property might be divided such as vehicles, real property, etc. Some examples of what the court may consider in awarding the pet to one spouse over the other include:
(a) How, when and by whom the pet was acquired. For example, if the pet was given as a gift from one spouse to the other during the marriage and the receiving spouse shares a closer bond with the pet than the gifting spouse, this might weigh in the receiving spouse's favor; and/or
(b) Whether or not the pet shares a close bond with the minor children, if any, of the marriage. The parent who exercises the most time-sharing with the children may be awarded the pet in that case. If the parties have equal time-sharing or close to it, the court could order that the pet be transported back and forth between the parents' homes for the benefit of the children.
Since the court must view pets as property and award the pets accordingly, it may benefit both spouses to agree on a pet time-sharing schedule wherein they share time with the pets on a set schedule. If this happens, there is no need for the court to choose one spouse over the other in deciding where the pet lives.
No doubt, determining the division of pets can be a very emotional saga. Setting up the best argument for the court to award a family pet to you in a Miami divorce may start with a consultation with a Miami divorce lawyer.