Pets are a key part of many families. They may have comforted you in stressful times, or they may be your child’s best friend.
What happens, then, when divorce changes your family? Who will move forward with ownership of your family pet?
How does Texas law address pets?
While you may view your pet as a companion and a key member of your family, the law views pets as property. As a result, pets fall under the same community property rules as other possessions like your home and your savings.
If you welcomed your pet into your home after your wedding, the court would likely consider them jointly owned as a result.
If you owned your pet before your wedding, on the other hand, they may be considered your sole property in divorce. Unfortunately, though, if you paid for their care using a joint bank account, that ownership may become less clear due to a process called “commingling.”
Who gets to go home with the family pet once the divorce is final?
While you cannot put a price on the love your pet brings into your life, the court will likely decide on a value of a jointly owned pet during property division. This value may include your dog’s breeding, any participation in competitions and other factors. If you want to keep your pet after divorce, you will likely need to allow your spouse to keep something of similar value in return.
Some couples may also choose to remain co-owners of their pet after divorce. In this case, you and your spouse will need to work together to address the cost of your pet’s care, a schedule for custody and visitation and other details.
No matter what path you choose, it is possible to take your beloved pet with you into the next chapter of your life.