How Family Pets are Handled in Divorce

For those who have them, pets are a big part of people’s lives. Many American families treat their pets like their own children and view them as a part of the family.  Pet ownership tends to bring many benefits to families, including companionship and emotional support. However, a lot of tension can arise in a family when a couple gets divorced and cannot determine who should have ownership of the family pets. How then, is custody of pets determined by the courts in divorce?

Ideally, determining who gets to keep a pet in a divorce can be done by creating an agreement ahead of time and including it in the prenuptial or postnuptial arrangements. Assuming the married couple did not do this, there are other things the court will look at in order to determine who should keep the “property”, or the family pet. Relevant factors that the courts look for include the following:


In many cases, if the pet belonged to a particular individual prior to the marriage, then most likely the pet will remain with that same individual after the divorce. Ownership may be determined based on the pet’s adoption or registration papers. If there are no registration papers or the pet has joint custody by the parents, the courts will look at other factors.

Caretaking Responsibilities

Day-to-day activities such as caretaking are some of the most common ways that pets bond with their owners. The person who walks, bathes, feeds, and spends time with the pet is likely to be the person that the pet sees as their owner. If one individual in the marriage has taken the majority of the responsibility for the pet, chances are he or she may be entitled to legal ownership of the pet.

Housing with Children

For married couples with children, pets often serve as a companion for the kids as well as a way to teach young children responsibility. If the couple divorces and custody is given to one of the parents, the court may decide to keep the family pet at the home where the children reside.

Financial and Personal Circumstances

Other factors that determine who is awarded pet ownership include basic things like finances and personal accountability. Even though the court views pets as legal assets, they also know that pets are living beings which require adequate care, food, hydration, and other necessities. If one of the parties is struggling financially and cannot afford to care for the pet, the courts will likely award ownership of the pet to the more affluent party. Similarly, if personal or professional circumstances, such as a work schedule, prevent one of the parties from being able to provide adequate care, the court is likely to give ownership to the party with more time and resources to devote to the pet.

Soto Mack Law Firm has handled many divorce cases in Kissimmee Osceola County. For more information on our legal divorce services, contact us at (407)-392-9008.



6 Advantages of Divorce You May Not Have Considered

When we get married to our partners, we believe that the union is forever. That’s why when we get divorced we often believe it is the worst possible outcome that we could have imagined. A lot of couples get married young, and as you age your goals and aspirations may change and you may find yourselves drifting apart. It turns out, there are some advantages to divorce you may not have considered. While nothing can save a relationship that is truly broken, including refraining from divorce, there are some advantages to divorce that may offer a silver lining. Here are six advantages you may not have considered:


  • It can lead to Happiness


We all know that stress and disappointment is the opposite of happiness. If you have tried for years to nurse a failing marriage back to health without success, chances are there is not much happiness left in the marriage. This can take a toll a person’s well-being. While separation is difficult, the main advantage is that you can separate yourself from the issue that is causing you unease, and open up new opportunities. Eventually, this can lead to newfound happiness.



  • Your Finances May Be Better in the Long Run


Divorce can be expensive, and they say that marriage comes with a lot of tax incentives. Despite this, one of the leading causes of divorces is financial disagreement. When you’re divorced, you have better control over your own income.  You don’t have to negotiate as much when deciding what to buy and how much to spend. Plus, if your former spouse was a heavy spender, your financial situation is likely to improve if you divorce yourself from them financially.



  • Your Kids May be Better Off


Kids are often forced to deal with a lot of stress when their parents separate, including seeing their parents remarry and having to spend weekends alternating parents. However, with the right support, kids can get used to life with divorced parents and grow into healthy adults. It could be worse for a couple to stay married for the sake of the children only to maintain high tension in the household. Stressful environments and verbal abuse can have a negative impact on a child’s development.



  • Your Next Marriage is More Likely to Be a Success


After a divorce, it can be difficult to imagine getting remarried or believing that you can ever make another marriage work. In the end, however, your marriage is only as good as the chemistry of the person you’re with. If you find someone who you are truly compatible with, chances are your marriage with them is much more likely to succeed than your previous marriage. Additionally, having been married once will be a great advantage in your second marriage. When we learn from our mistakes in previous relationships, we’re far less likely to make them again in our next relationship.


If you considering a divorce and need legal assistance in central Florida, contact the law office of Soto Mack Law Group. We assist with divorce, alimony, and custody cases.  (407)- 392-9008


When Can the Court Overrule a Prenuptial Agreement?

Some couples choose to plan ahead for the potential of divorce, entering into a prenuptial agreement before marriage.  The agreement often details how the couple will divide shared assets in the case of a divorce. Critics of prenuptial agreements argue that they ignore the interests of other parties.  For example, a prenuptial agreement may try to assign all children to one spouse, but what happens if the other spouse would be better for the children? In the venerable Florida Supreme Court case Posner v. Posner, the court generalized that “in every divorce suit the state is a third party whose interests take precedence over the private interests of the spouses,” meaning that the court can overrule certain prenuptial arrangements that contradict public interest. More recent cases have clarified what the court can and can’t overrule in a prenup.

Courts have ruled that a clearly worded prenup may waive inheritance rights, including the “elective share” automatically available to a surviving spouse.  These rights could include homestead, family allowance, or even the intestate share that might have gone to the spouse in the absence of a will.

Courts have also ruled that a clearly worded prenup may waive property ownership rights, including property that might otherwise be considered “marital property.”  Courts have varied on the waiver of the appreciation of that property that occurs during the marriage, after the prenup was signed. The Florida Supreme Court has recently clarified in Hahamovitch v. Hahamovitch that sufficiently express wording can be sufficient to waive even the appreciation of assets obtained during the marriage.

Often the most important issue raised in a prenup agreement is alimony, the future support of one spouse, post-divorce, paid by the other spouse.  Courts have held that a sufficiently specific prenup can waive the right to post-divorce alimony, or the right to seek changes in post-divorce alimony.

While a carefully drafted prenup may waive these and other rights, courts have held that some rights cannot be waived in this fashion.  For example, a prenup cannot waive temporary support needed by a spouse to allow for fair litigation to occur in the divorce proceeding, because such waiver would interfere with public justice.  The same is true for the temporary attorney’s fees required for an attorney to assist the spouse during litigation. Perhaps most importantly, a prenup may waive neither child support nor child custody.  The “best interests of the child” standard will always apply in divorce proceedings involving children, trumping aspects of a prenup that go against what is best for the ex-couple’s children.

Attorneys must attend to many complicated details when they create prenup agreements or advise clients of their rights if the other spouse is asking them to sign a prenup agreement.  In either case, consulting a skilled Family Law attorney like Kelvin Soto is highly advisable in any divorce proceeding involving a prenup.