Skip to Content
Call or Text Today! 703-520-7571

Pets And Divorce

a brown and white dog looking straight ahead

Family Lawyer

There are many small aspects of divorce cases that are often overlooked. Getting a divorce can affect every part of your life down to the little things that one may not consider. One of these little things is family pets. Pets are a huge part of family life and deciding how they will be taken care of after a divorce is very important. Unfortunately, while many people may consider themselves pet moms and dads, in the legal world things are quite different. It is important to understand all of the different legal ramifications regarding the custody of a pet after a divorce. After reading this article, one will understand how pets can be included in divorce settlements and other ways pets can come into play regarding divorce. You should consider contacting an expert divorce attorney in these cases. 

To start pets are not treated as children in divorce cases. As much as people may feel like they are their pet’s parent this does not hold in legal proceedings. Specifically, in the state of Texas, pets within legal divorce cases are “considered property”(Pets in Family Law Cases). However, there are two categories of property that a pet might fall into. These categories are “community property” and “separate property” (Pets in Family Law Cases). Separate property is considered property that was owned by either party “before the marriage” or “gifts” received from the other spouse or outside parties during the marriage (Pets in Family Law Cases). Community property is considered property “acquired by either spouse” while they were still married that does not fall within the separate property category (Pets in Family Law Cases). For example, if both partners together were to buy a house during their marriage, this would be considered community property.

Which category a pet falls into is incredibly important if pet custody comes into question during a divorce. If the pet was a gift or owned by one spouse before the marriage, the pet, unless otherwise decided would go back to live with that spouse (Pets in Family Law Cases). At that point there is very little the other spouse would be able to do to ensure that they would be able to keep the pet with them. However, if the pet is considered community property there are a few more options left to both parties. Firstly, both spouses can sit down in “mediation” and decided who it is best for the pet to live with (Pets in Family Law Cases).

Mediation is simply when both people involved in the case sit down with a third party and try to divide all community property and other assets to avoid going to court with their divorce case. If this matter can not be resolved through mediation, unfortunately, the case would have to go to court. There the judge would decide which person should be allowed to keep the pet after the marriage ends. This is not an arbitrary decision, as the judge will take into account multiple factors when making this decision. These factors can include “who cared for the animal daily, and who [generally] made veterinary decisions” regarding the animal. If one spouse normally did these actions more than the other, they will generally be able to keep the pet after the divorce. 

When it comes to pets to pets in divorce cases, there are many details that must be understood before important decisions can be made. After reading this article, one would now have the information required to properly understand the difference between separate and community property, as well as how that would affect whom the pet would stay will after divorce proceedings. With this new information, more informed decisions can be made regarding pets and divorce cases. 

To learn more about divorces and pet owners’ rights, call our friends at Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC.