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Determining Custody Of Pets In A Tampa Divorce


For many people, pets are considered precious family members and are often doted upon and treated like children. Furry four-legged friends and other pets provide a source of laughter, love, and affection for their owners. They may also perform important services for their owner, such as offering guidance, protection, or emotional support.

Unfortunately, if you are getting a divorce in Tampa, ownership of family pets is something couples frequently fight over. Our Tampa divorce lawyer explains how pet custody is determined in these proceedings.

How Pet Custody Is Determined By The Tampa Court

If you are getting a divorce in Tampa and have concerns about what will happen to your family pet, one of the first things you need to be aware of is that the court considers them as your property rather than as ‘fur babies.’ As such, the court does not determine custody but instead decides who has ownership rights.

As they are technically considered property, pets are subject to equitable division under the Florida Statutes. This means that when determining ownership moving forward, the judge in your case will consider the following:

  • Whether you or your spouse owned the pet prior to marriage, in which case, they are not subject to equitable division and remain with the original owner;
  • The amount of time and money you and your spouse each spend in providing for your pet;
  • Whether the pet acts as a support animal or performs any other type of role for either party;
  • Whether you have children from the marriage, who will be impacted by any decisions concerning pets that the court would likely make.

Protecting Your Rights To Pets In A Tampa Divorce

The same as with children, the care and custody of pets can be a hotly contested issue when filing for a divorce through the Hillsborough County Family Court. Both parties may be attached to the animal, or one of them may be using their demands for pet ownership as a way of hurting their former spouse. Whatever the situation, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • Make a detailed list of all the duties you routinely provide in caring for your pet;
  • Make another list detailing any ways in which your spouse was not a responsible pet owner;
  • Produce receipts and statements from your vet, groomer, and trainer showing your involvement with the pet;
  • Describe the impact losing ownership of the pet would have on your life and on your children;
  • Consider what marital property you might be willing to trade to retain ownership of your pet.

Get Our Experienced Tampa Divorce Lawyer On Your Side

At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., we protect your rights when getting a divorce in Tampa. Our Tampa divorce lawyer offers the caring, comprehensive legal service you need to get the maximum amount of property and assets you are entitled to in your divorce settlement. To request a consultation, call or contact our office online today.




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