Family pets are sometimes the subject of expensive and emotional litigation, and it benefits both spouses to settle such issues through pre-suit mediation.

Most of us that adopt pets agree to a lifelong commitment to care for the pet the rest of its life, and we all know what a deep emotional connection people have to their pets.  Many people develop a profound love for their pets and develop a sense of obligation to care for their pet’s well-being that is similar in some respects to the way parents care about their children, especially for couples that never have children.  When relationships break down, it goes without saying that many will attempt to argue issues concerning the custody of their pets to the judge, but unfortunately, this approach is not only expensive, but can yield results that are less than satisfying.  In addition, it can create an atmosphere of stress that is not only unhealthy for you, but is certainly felt by the pet, who doesn’t even have a voice in the matter.

 

Under current Florida law, pets are considered personal property, just like any other inanimate object, and are therefore subject to the equitable distribution of the parties’ marital property.  As a result, parties that spend a large amount of money to take this issue to court will invariably face disappointment, as courts are reluctant, if not precluded, from ordering “custody” and visitation schedules in the same manner as children.  Furthermore, equitable distribution orders can never be modified under any circumstances, and because pets are classified as property in a divorce, whatever the court rules will stand regardless of any change of circumstances in the future.

 

Please contact us at Healthy Family Mediation Center or call us at (239) 529-3549 to learn more about the process, and how pre-suit mediation can help you avoid the trauma that can be caused by fighting over a family pet in court, and craft a solution that is best not only for you, but for your pets.

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