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Pets and divorce in Texas

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Family Law

Pets are more than animals; they are loyal companions, intelligent aids, fierce guards and beloved family members, valued by many as much as any human. Because of this, the possibility of losing access to them in a divorce can be a heart-rending one.

While pets are living beings with emotions and intellects of their own, the law does not treat them as such.

Texas law views pets as property

Just like a house or car, courts treat pets as possessions and distribute them based on a community property policy. This means, that if the pet belonged to one spouse before the marriage, he or she is separate property and stays with that person. If the couple acquired the pet together during the union, he or she becomes part of the division process. In some cases, this means taking the actual monetary value of the pet and factoring it in, especially if the pet is an expensive purebred or show animal.

A special situation occurs in some cases if there are minors involved. If there are children emotionally attached to a pet whose overall well-being may be affected by separation from him or her, the court will prioritize the children, giving the pet to the primary custodial parent.

Couples can negotiate

Judges usually do not award visitation or custody for pets. However, if the divorcing spouses come to an agreement with each other, they generally do not oppose it.

According to Dogster, based on information from Forbes, 2/3 of the nation’s households own a pet of some kind. Pets are like children to many individuals. Even though courts do not treat them as such, the pet owners themselves can establish their own custody schedule so both can continue to see their beloved animal friends.