In Florida, pets are considered to be personal property. In the event that a pet was owned by one of the parties prior to the marriage, that party will be entitled to keep the pet. In the event that the pet was acquired by the parties during the course of the marriage, the pet will be distributed in accordance with Florida’s equitable distribution statute.
In Florida, trial courts will not award custody and visitation of family dogs and cats. The Florida Court of Appeal stated that while some states do award custody and visitation of family pets, Florida does not do so. The reason is that Florida courts are overwhelmed with child support cases and cases involving the custody and visitation of children. They do not want to undertake supervision and enforcement issues involving pets.
In a recent case captioned Harby v. Harby, the Former Husband and the Former Wife were married in December 2001. In November 2017, the Former Wife filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The Former Husband and Former Wife own two dogs. Their names are Liberty and Nico. At the trial, the Former Wife testified that Liberty was an emotional support dog. The Former Wife also testified that she took care of Liberty and Nico from 2013 to 2017. Between 2017 and the date of the trial, the Former Husband took care of both dogs.