Divorce and the Family Pets: Who Gets the Fur Babies?

September 28, 2018 Posted in Divorce

If determining who gets the family pet could be a point of contention in your divorce, you should consult with Dallas divorce lawyers about your options. Emotions can run high during a divorce and the potential that you could lose your best friend during this difficult time could be a devastating proposition.

Your fur babies give you companionship and unconditional love, and you consider them an important part of your family. But under Texas divorce laws, pets are property and subject to the same rules that apply to your furniture, jewelry and the other personal property being divvied up in your divorce.

How Are Pets Viewed in a Divorce?

While you may treat your pets like they are your children, that is not how they will be treated during a divorce.

In Texas, community property rules apply to the division of property in a divorce. Each spouse owns half of all the property acquired during the course of the marriage. This is called marital property. Each spouse is entitled to half of the marital property, regardless of which spouse may have actually paid for the property or which spouse physically acquired it.  So any pets you purchased or adopted while you were married will be considered marital property, jointly owned by you and your spouse.

Separate property, on the other hand, consists of assets that one spouse brought with them into the marriage. So if you acquired a pet before you were married and brought it with you into the marriage, it will be considered your separate property, yours to keep when you divorce.

Does Texas Law Allow for Pet Visitation or Pet Support?

Because pets acquired during the course of the marriage are seen as assets and not true family members under Texas law, there are no rules governing visitation or support payments.

Who gets custody of the co-owned pets will be determined in the same manner as other community property assets of the marriage. If the parties cannot agree on who should receive the pets, a judge will make a decision regarding custody. The judge will take into account which spouse has historically provided the most care for the pets and who can provide the best home for each pet following the divorce. If there is more than one pet, the judge might split them up. While the laws surrounding child custody do not apply to pets, many judges are pet lovers too and will try to find a solution to a custody conflict that is in the best interest of the animals.

The best way to avoid any potential issues regarding custody of the family pets is to include a custody arrangement in a premarital agreement or postnuptial agreement.

Contact Dallas Divorce Lawyer Michael P. Granata to Learn More About Pet Custody

If you anticipate that pet custody will be an issue in your divorce, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible so you can work toward the best resolution of any pet custody issues that could arise during your divorce. Please call 214-977-9050 or reach out to us online.