Most family courts across the country operate with the assumption that both parents should play a role in their children’s lives after a divorce. That is not the case when it comes to family pets. If you don’t get custody of the cat, dog or other pet in the divorce, there is a very real chance that your relationship with them will end.
The Battle Over Pet Custody
Losing a pet in a divorce can be traumatic. During difficult times in our lives, the love of a pet can be a tremendous comfort. To have your pet leave your life just when you need that love the most is doubly painful. The deep feelings we have for our pets mean that battles over who gets them in a divorce can be bitter.
How Texas Law Treats Family Pets
Some states have a process for determining custody of pets that vaguely resembles child custody determinations. In Texas, pets are not considered something one gets custody over. They are property. Deciding who gets the dog is more like deciding who gets the rug in your living room than it is like determining custody of the children.
When thinking about your pets, it is important to consider their designation as property under the law. Property can be considered separate or community. If you brought the pet into the relationship, it will be treated as your separate property. If the pet was a gift, it may be considered the sole property of the party who received it.
Many people are shocked to find that the love and care they’ve provided to a family pet carries little to no weight in the courtroom. Divorcing couples with more than one pet often see the pets split up in the name of equity. This can be traumatic for the pets as well as the pet owners.
The Importance of Negotiation
Family court may not be the best option when it comes to deciding the right future for your pets. Whenever possible, the disposition of family pets should be decided through negotiation. Solutions like visitation rights or shared custody are unlikely to result from a courtroom battle. They are more likely to be the result of negotiation between the parties.
If pet custody is important to you, you should be prepared to make it a priority in negotiating a divorce settlement.
Discuss Your Situation with an Experienced Attorney
At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we can help you with all aspects of divorce. Your pets are important to you. They should be taken into account by your lawyer when working on your divorce. Send us a message or call our Arlington office at 817-799-7125 to get started.