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Pets are changing divorce agreements

More and more people see a pet as a beloved family member and not as a working animal or mere property. As some couples head to divorce, there are disagreements about who should get the family pet. Most courts will view a pet as property just like silverware or a painting, but some Florida families want to make shared custody arrangements when parting with a pet is just too hard.

Lawyers report that the pet custody issue is a growing trend in their practices, but in most locations the law has not yet changed. If a pet was purchased using marital funds within a marriage, it can be hard to make a clear claim of separate property. If the pet was a gift, or came into the marriage with an individual, it may be easier to argue that the pet stay with one rightful owner. 

If there is a dispute, individuals may find the best results come from reaching an agreement with their exes outside of the courtroom. When a joint pet custody agreement is reached, it can be detailed in a document much like any other custody agreement, taking into account finances, responsibilities and rights. If the pet belonged to children, the pet custody agreement could mimic the children's custody agreement, thus allowing the children the most contact with their pet during the divorce transition. 

For some, it is hard to see a pet as an object or property to be divided. If concerns about losing a pet to divorce are real, a person may always consider a prenuptial (or postnuptial) agreement. A person in Florida in the thick of a pet custody dispute may choose to turn to an experienced attorney for more advice on the problem. 

Source: hometownlife.com, "Pets increasingly becoming divorce battleground", Susan Peck, March 27, 2018

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