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Is our pet property or something more?

In every divorce, splitting spouses will need to go through the process of dividing assets. As hard as this can be when it comes to assets like your home, gifts and money in your bank account, it can be especially difficult if you have share a pet.

In Florida and other states across the U.S., pets are considered property, which means they will be subject to the same distribution laws as any other piece of property you own. However, chances are that you do not consider your pet to be the same as your couch, so here's what you can do about pet custody.

One of the best things you can do to resolve matters concerning who keeps the pet is to work out a custody plan with your ex outside of court. This allows you to work out a solution that you and your ex can agree on and that you can have some control over. In fact, you could work off recommendations like those in this Huffington Post article to create a pet parenting plan that allows you to share custody of a pet.

The alternative is to have the court make a decision on who keeps the family pet. In some cases, a judge sensitive to the relationship between pets and owners will make certain considerations regarding who will keep a pet that are similar to those in child custody cases. A judge might make a decision based on who the pet spends more time with and who might be better equipped to care for the pet.

However, there is no guarantee that a judge will approach pet custody in the manner you might hope for. It is possible that he or she could also make a decision based on only the presumed cost of the pet and factor that in to the property division agreement.

If you have a pet and are concerned about what will happen to it in the event of a divorce, you can discuss your options with an attorney. For many people, pets are more of a family member than a piece of property; taking steps to protect your companion can be a critical element in your divorce.

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