Pet Alimony?

Sarah Bronilla is suing her ex-husband, Joshua Rosen, for over $32,000 in alimony. No, not alimony for herself, but for their pampered English bulldog, Lola. The case arising out of New York may be one of the first “dogimony” cases.

As the New York Daily News reports, when Sarah Bronilla and Joshua Rosen separated in 2012 – after six years of marriage – Rosen agreed he would pay Bronilla $200 in monthly “dogimony”, she says in her Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit against him for pet alimony.

Florida Alimony

In Florida, alimony is governed by the Florida Statutes and relevant case law. The starting point in any alimony case is whether there is an actual need for alimony by a spouse, and the ability of the paying spouse to pay for alimony.

However, Florida Statutes are silent as to pet alimony.

I have written about divorce and pet issues several times. Pet custody, or who gets the pet dog, is a frequent problem. Alaska became the first state to enact a pet custody law.

A bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in Rhode Island which is very similar to the law of Alaska which was enacted this year. The Rhode Island bill requires judges to “consider the best interest of the animal” in a divorce or separation. Currently, there is no such provision in the works in Florida.

Florida does not have any pet specific custody or divorce laws. In fact, the alimony law is written in such a way that the court can only grant alimony to a party, not a pet of the parties.

Just because there is no specific law authorizing pet alimony does not mean: ‘that dog won’t hunt!’ People are free to enter into marital settlement agreements which make provision for support, such as pet alimony, that the law does not.

Those contracts could be enforceable as Mr. Rosen in New York may find out.

New York Pet Alimony

According to the New York complaint, Rosen not only agreed he would pay $200 in monthly pet alimony, or “dogimony”, Rosen also agreed to cover total food costs and half of the vet bills for the pet dog.

But the ‘deadbeat dog dad’ has skipped out on his financial obligations for pet alimony, Bronilla alleges in the lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Bronilla says she has had to cover $12,000 for upkeep, $18,000 for food and $2,335 for health costs for the pooch, described as “fawn-colored” in the lawsuit.

In addition to the unpaid pet alimony, Bronilla claims Rosen owes her around another $100,000 related to their settlement agreement, including money from a portion of a business he sold.

The New York Daily News article is here.