Photo of Mysti Murphy

Standing Strong for Your Rights

Addressing pet ownership during divorce

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2024 | Property Division

In Texas, as in many other states, pets are often considered members of many families. As such, determining who gets custody of a pet during a divorce can be a complex and emotionally charged process.

Unlike children, where the court considers the best interests of the child, pets in Texas are viewed as property. This means that, legally, they are treated similarly to assets like cars or furniture. As such, they’re handled in the property division part of the case.

Understanding how pets are handled in a Texas divorce is crucial for anyone going through this process. This can help set realistic expectations and lead to more amicable solutions.

Timeline of ownership

The way pets are handled in a divorce can vary greatly depending on the couple’s situation and the court’s interpretation. Since pets are considered personal property, the court will typically look at who purchased the pet or whose name is on the registration or adoption papers.

If the pet was acquired during the marriage, it’s considered community property and subject to division. If one spouse owned the pet before the marriage, it’s likely to be considered separate property, and that spouse would retain ownership.

Additionally, the court may consider who has been the pet’s primary caretaker, including who takes the pet to vet appointments and who handles the daily care. It’s important to note that while these factors are considered, emotional attachment isn’t typically a legal consideration in these cases.

Consideration of the pet’s welfare

While pets are legally considered property, some judges may consider the pet’s welfare, similar to child custody cases. This can include factors like the pet’s age, health and attachment to each spouse. However, this isn’t a legal requirement and varies by case and judge.

It is also very important to note that divorces that don’t require judicial intervention can be resolved in whatever ways the negotiating parties want.

Pets are only one factor that comes into the picture during property division. Working with someone who can explain all options available, including the possibility of mediation, is beneficial in these situations.