Many families today consider their pets treasured members of their families. From dogs and cats to birds and reptiles, humans develop strong attachments to their pets. 

When a pet-owning couple in Florida decides to get a divorce, they must figure out where the pet will live after the marriage ends. A collaborative, less adversarial approach to a divorce may facilitate this in a manner more positive than in a litigated divorce. 

An issue across the nation 

Time magazine reported on a case in which divorcing spouses in Rhode Island could not agree on who would receive custody of their dogs. The matter resulted in a battle lasting two years and making its way to the State Supreme Court where the judge handed down a shared custody order. 

Pew Trusts indicates that some states have passed legislation outlining provisions and guidance to judges with which to make pet custody determinations. The laws acknowledge pets as some form of property but not akin to inanimate objects like furniture. Instead, pets necessitate special considerations in divorce negotiations. 

Collaborative divorces and pets 

Spouses who engage in a collaborative approach to their divorce generally experience less conflict during divorce discussions. When considering their pets, they may jointly review each person’s schedule and who has the most time to devote to the pets. If one spouse works from home, for example, while the other spouse travels routinely for work, the former may provide a better environment for the pets. 

Couples with children may consider having their pets stay with the kids, moving between houses as the children do.