DIVORCE OVERVIEW (WITH CHILDREN), part 3
Who gets the dog when you divorce? From the picture you know who it would be! (Just kidding, honey—I have no plans on a divorce.) But clients often ask who gets the pets. Under Florida family law, pets are no different than your pots and pan. Can you believe it? Even the judges that are pet owners and lovers can’t give visitation or time sharing for pets; they have to be divided. In many cases, the parties naturally know who really belongs with, loves and cares for each specific pet, but in divorce we can have a lot of hurt feelings and the desire to get revenge. What better way to get revenge than to take the other person’s beloved cat, dog, bird, horse.
I always warn my clients when negotiating not to hold their hands too tightly because that’s exactly when the other side wants to go in and pluck whatever they’re holding from them, or worse, to use emotional leverage to coerce someone into doing something they don’t want. If pets are going to be a part of your divorce or separation, let your attorney know. Family law attorneys really do want to help. I even had a case once where our clients did agree to time share an animal. One person kept the animal and routine expenses the majority of the time while the other person paid the vet bills and kept the animal when the other person was out of town. Even though pets are considered property in a divorce, a judge will rubber stamp or enter an order enforcing any agreements you may devise for pet sharing. We can be creative! We love animals, too, and want to help our clients keep theirs.
While pets are priceless, there is certainly a cost to keeping them happy and healthy. Find out about alimony payments in our next blog!