You may see your cats or dogs as part of the family, but Texas courts see your pets as property. As such, the best way to keep your companion animal(s) safe is to make a private agreement with your spouse and settle pet ownership of your pet(s) in your divorce decree.
Otherwise, the court will assign ownership of a pet during property division. Usually, the judge will assign your pet a value and rule which spouse gets to keep it. Then, they will award the other spouse an asset of equal value. When there are no assets of equal value, the court can even order that you sell your pet and split the proceeds.
If you adopted your pet before you got married or received your pet as a gift or inheritance, the court considers your cat or dog “separate property,” and it will remain in your care. Even if you and your spouse adopted the pet together, however, Texas courts will not order custody or visitation with a pet.
Consider a Private Contract
Just because the court sees your pets as property doesn’t mean you have to. If you and your spouse want to share your pet, you can draft a contract with your family law attorney. As long as you agree to terms of custody and visitation, you and your soon-to-be-ex can share your companion animal as you see fit. Additionally, courts uphold all sorts of contracts, so your agreement may even be enforceable later on.
If you’re having a hard time coming to an agreement, some mediators may be willing to help you resolve this difficult aspect of property division.
Our firm is creative, resourceful, and experienced – we can find the solution that works for you and your family.
All you have to do is call us at (713) 234-6260 or contact us online to schedule your confidential consultation today.