How does the courts handle pet custody in a divorce?


If you are like many couples these days who have a pet, you think of it much like a child. When you decide to divorce, it is natural for you to want the court to consider the pet in the same way. However, the law in Texas does not allow for pet custody laws as it does for child custody laws.

According to KHOU 11, the law states that pets are property and the court should treat them as it would any other asset.

Factors in decision

Because the court must consider pets as property, that means they need to look at ownership under marital property laws. The court will consider if one of you owned the pet prior to your divorce or who purchased the pet. It may also look at who pays for the care of the pet and who offers daily care to the pet.

Even though the pet is property, the court will still recognize that it is a living being that requires love and care. So, the court will consider your schedules and who can provide the best care, which is similar to what it would do in a child custody case.

The final decision

The court may make a decision plainly based on the facts. For example, if you had the dog before you got married, then the court may say it is separate property and you retain ownership completely. However, it is also common for the court to encourage you and your spouse to come to an agreement on what you will do with the pet. The court cannot set a formal custody arrangement, so if you do wish to share the pet, then you will need to create this agreement.

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