About 64 % of all couples living in the United States have a pet. While dogs and cats are most common, horses, iguanas, hamsters, and rabbits are all standard. Many couples consider their pet to be a family member. The court system, however, may see it as dividable community property. Judges across the United States have awarded custody and visitation to couples. Others have taken the extreme measure of sending the divorcing couple to a local dog park after declaring that the person who the dog came to first got custody. Some states are starting to look at pets in the same way that they do children. In Florida, however, pets are still considered dividable personal property at the time of the divorce.
When courts see pets as personal property, then they are assigned an economic value based on the animal's fair market value. The value may be determined based on the selling price of the animal's littermates. It may also be determined by what one of the spouses would have to pay to replace the pet. Finally, the animal's pedigree may determine its economic value. Pets that have no real economic value, the spouse that offers the most to keep the dog is usually the winner. Often this approach makes courts look harsh and cold-hearted to both spouses.
Instead of considering just the economic value of animals, some judges are starting to recognize the animal's needs. In most cases, the court is ruling that the animal stays in their home. Additionally, the animal usually goes to the children's primary caregiver. If the couple has more than one animal, then the animals typically stay together. At least three states have made this law, but others are considering it in their decision-making process.
If you are concerned about what will happen to your pet after your divorce, then you may want to contact Frank Family Law Firm about collaborative law. This family law practice in Altamonte Springs are experts at collaborative law. Under this approach, each spouse gets represented by their lawyer. They make decisions together about what happens to their property after the divorce. Then, the couple can choose to make the best decision for their pets.
If you are ready to speak to an expert on the collaborative law or prepared to fight your spouse in court for custody of your animals, then you need an experienced lawyer at your side. Contact Frank Family Law Practice in Altamonte Springs. They have an outstanding record of helping spouses settle their divorces without going to court. You and your pets can trust these experts to keep everyone's best interests at heart. Contact them today to get the divorce process started.