Can I Keep My Pet If We Get Divorced in Texas?

cat and dog under blanket

Posted on in Divorce

TX divorce lawyerOver the last two years, Americans spent more time at home and spending on pets skyrocketed. Because pets feel so integrated into our lives and relationships and take so much work to raise and train, people often feel deeply invested in their pets, making them a very sensitive subject during divorce. If you are considering divorce in Texas and are wondering what will happen to your pet, read on.

Pets are Property Under Texas Law

Although a pet may feel almost like a child, as far as Texas law is concerned, pets are property just like a car or an engagement ring. Texas is a community property state, meaning that all marital property must be split 50/50 in a divorce.

To understand what will likely happen to your pet in a divorce, you must first determine whether a pet is separate property or marital property. If one spouse owned the pet before getting married, the animal is likely separate property and will remain with its original owner after the divorce. But if a pet was acquired after a couple got married, both spouses will likely be seen as the animal’s owners.

Of course, a pet cannot be literally split between two people, so Texas courts will assign pets a simple economic value that can be negotiated as part of a broader property settlement. Pet parents cannot have joint “custody” in the eyes of the law - after the divorce, the pet will belong to one person or the other. If one spouse retains exclusive ownership of a pet, he or she is also responsible for the full cost and responsibility of that pet’s care after the divorce is finalized.

Can We Share Ownership After Divorce?

If spouses can agree to manage the issue together, they may want to share “custody” or have a visitation schedule. However, both spouses must agree to this arrangement and put it in their final divorce decree so there is no later conflict. Mediation may be helpful when spouses are trying to decide how to handle a pet.

Talk to a Collin County Marital Property Division Lawyer

Pets can feel like members of our family and the prospect of loving them to a divorce can be depressing. If you want to learn more about marital property division and how your pet may be treated in a Texas divorce, schedule a free consultation with a Collin County divorce lawyer with Law Office of Brian Bagley. We are ready to help however we can. Call us today at (972) 843-7158.


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