Many people consider animals to be well-loved members of their family; but, in the eyes of Texas law, pets are property. In child custody and visitation issues, a judge will always rule in favor of what is best for the child. In pet issues, a judge will treat the animal as property and use the laws that govern community and separate property to determine who should keep the pet. However, if the divorcing parties create a written agreement detailing how they would like the animal handled in the event of divorce, a judge will usually honor this agreement.
Factors of Pet Custody
As with all property settlement issues, if there is no agreement in place, the judge will need to determine if the animal is community property (acquired during the marriage) or separate property (acquired by one spouse before the marriage or gifted to one spouse during the marriage). If the pet is community property, a judge will consider the following factors:
- which party was the primary caregiver of the animal;
- which party took care of the pet’s daily needs;
- if either party neglected the pet in any way;
- the work and travel schedule of each party; and/or
- the access schedule of any minor children who have a close bond with the pet.
In addition to placing the pet in the home of the person who will best care for the animal, a judge will often keep the pet where minor children spend the most time.
If a couple has more than one pet, a judge may split the animals between both parties. For instance, a judge might award the cat to the party who is away from home for longer periods and the dog to the party who does not have a hectic schedule.
Providing Guidance in Property Division Issues
If you are considering divorce and you aren’t sure how to deal with your pet, our divorce attorney can help. Attorney Camille R. Borg has extensive experience in many divorce-related issues and can help you come up with an agreement concerning your pet that will benefit all parties involved.
Call our firm today at (469) 646-7763 or contact us online to schedule your appointment.