With nearly 70% of Americans owning at least one pet, it is more common than not to have a dispute with your spouse over the custody of a pet, while going through a divorce. Although there are no statutes specifically directed to the custody of a pet, judges tend to view household pets as assets that are subject to equitable distribution. However, there are ways to avoid a judicial determination of the possession of a family pet, and instead find an agreement that is suitable for you and your family. If you are entering into the divorce process, contact an Orlando Divorce Attorney who can help you not only protect your rights, but also the custody of your furry family members.
If left up to a court, the judge will first determine if the pet is in fact marital property. In order to be considered marital property, the pet must have been acquired during the time of the marriage. However, if you or your spouse bought the animal prior to marriage this animal may be considered non marital property, removing it from the equitable distribution process. However, your Orlando Divorce Attorney may be able to create certain arguments that display the pet may in fact be adjudicated as marital property. For instance, if marital funds were spent on the health and maintenance of the pet, the court may take this into consideration when determining the marital distinction of property. However, this is not guaranteed, and you may still consider alternative dispute options first.
If you do not want to leave the custody of your pet up to the courts, you may be able to formulate an arrangement with your spouse through a collaborative negotiation process such as mediation. Through mediation, you and your spouse will be able to assess the value of each asset personally and work together to form an agreement, hopefully, appealing to the interests of both parties. Mediation provides you with the freedom to come up with any terms necessary to achieve the common goals with your spouse. For instance, if unable to determine one spouse as the sole custodian of a pet, you may be able to establish a visitation or time-sharing plan similar to a child custody agreement. Talk with your Orlando Divorce Attorney to create a plan to keep your cherished family member a part of your life post-divorce.
With no statutory regulations regarding custody of pets, it can become a difficult legal process. However, your Orlando Divorce Attorney can work with you to establish your goals and ensure your furry family members are also taken care of during this process. Whether you are seeking custody of your furry family member, or you are looking to protect your rights to marital assets and support orders, contact an Orlando Divorce Attorney who can help to protect your rights in all areas.
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