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Who Gets the Family Pet in a Divorce in Texas?

Serious Conflicts can Arise Over Family Pets; You Need to be Ready to Negotiate

If you are getting divorced in Texas , you are certainly not alone. According to data from the Annual Statistical Reports for the Texas Judiciary , approximately 135,000 new divorce cases are filed in our state each year. Going through a marital separation is never easy. Even when a couple is splitting on relatively good terms, there are still many complicated issues that will need to be worked out.

For many couples, one of the most complex, sensitive issues is the family pet. As both partners may have developed a close attachment to the pet, it can be difficult to decide exactly what to do with the animal moving forward. Here, our dedicated Pearland, TX family law attorney explains what you need to know about pets and divorce in Texas.

Texas Law: Pets are Property

While your pet may feel like another member of the family, Texas law treats your pet as property. When deciding who gets the family pet(s), the first question that Texas courts will seek to answer: Is the pet separate property or community property?

If the pet is separate property, then the individual owner has full rights to keep the pet. On the other hand, if the pet is community property, each partner has equal rights to claim ownership of the pet.

Unfortunately, Texas law can make pets somewhat difficult to deal with in divorce because family pets almost universally have an intrinsic, sentimental value that is far higher than their pure economic value. Your pet is likely worth far more to you than the value that will be placed on it by Texas courts.

Negotiation is the Key to Satisfactory Resolution

To get the best possible results for you and your pet, negotiation is the key. If your pet means far more to you than it does to your partner, you need to be prepared to negotiate a fair settlement so that you can be sure that you can claim ownership of your pet following the divorce.

In certain circumstances, you and your spouse may even want to create a visitation schedule for the pet, so that you can both have a continuing relationship. This usually has to be done in an out-of-court settlement. Remember, Texas courts treat pets as property, the court will not be interested in litigating the specifics of a pet visitation schedule.

Regardless, if your pet is important to you, you should be sure to work with an experienced family law lawyer who fully understands the importance of your pet and who can help you negotiate a broader divorce settlement that effectively protects your best interests.

Speak to a Texas Divorce Lawyer Today

At John Powell III, P.C. , our dedicated Texas family law attorney has extensive experience handling sensitive divorce issues, including those involving family pets. For immediate assistance with your divorce case, please contact us today for a confidential initial consultation. From our office in Pearland, we serve clients throughout the region, including in Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County.