In many families, pets take on the role as cherished members. For that reason, divorcing couples often consider the fate of a pet as much more than a property division aspect of their settlement. There are many Florida residents who are struggling to determine who gets the dog when the marriage is over.

In all but two states, family courts are required to view the issue of pets in the same way they approach the division of other marital property. In those two states, laws have been passed that allow a judge to consider what custody arrangement would be in the best interest of the pet. In some cases where the couple cannot agree on who should be the primary owner of a pet, the court will instruct the owners to follow the same parenting plan that is set up for their children. In this way, the emotional bonds between children and their pets can be retained.

In situations where there are no minor children, the couple may be at a loss on how to share the family dog. In some situations, a court could be inclined to order the pet sold and the proceeds split, or for one spouse to buy the animal from the other. For the most part, spouses are encouraged to reach an agreement outside of the courts that will ensure that the animal will remain in the care of one or both of its owners.

There are efforts underway to draft legislation that would provide these animals with the right to be considered a sentient being, which would protect them from being treated as an object in property division during a divorce. A dissolution can be emotionally difficult for all of the parties involved, and the idea of parting with a beloved pet may only exacerbate these feelings. Florida residents who are worried about all aspects of their impending divorce negotiations may benefit from the guidance of an experienced attorney.