20 Apr Family Pets In Divorce
Pets are an important part of any family. They are not just pets to anyone who has one. They are bundles of love, wrapped in fur.
In a divorce, there are plenty of laws surrounding children and their future. The courts will look at the best interests of the child. There will be an assessment of a variety of factors to determine where the child will live and who is in charge of making decisions about their education, health, and other important things.
But what about pets? What about our loyal, loving companions? What happens to them in a divorce?
Pets in the Law
Under Texas law, pets are considered property. This means that a court will not decide aspects such as custody or visitation the way they would with children. All pet owners know that pets are more than just property, but that is what Texas recognizes them as.
In Texas, there are two types of property when it comes to divorce:
- Community, and
Community property is the property that was acquired during the marriage. Separate property was acquired by one spouse before the marriage, or it was gifted or inherited to a spouse during the marriage.
When it comes to divorce, separate property stays with the spouse who owns it. When it comes to community property, it is split in a way that is “just and right.” This is many times an equal 50/50 split, but not always.
Who Keeps Our Pet?
If one spouse owned the pet before the marriage or was gifted it during the marriage, they get to keep the pet. They will need to prove that the pet is considered separate property. The court will look to the spouse to agree.
But what if you and your spouse got a pet during your marriage? What if your pet is considered community property? A pet cannot be split the way a house can be sold, and the proceeds divided.
In this case, a judge will decide which spouse gets to keep the family pet. There are a few factors that the judge may consider:
- Which spouse found the animal
- Which spouse picked out the animal
- Which spouse cared for the animal on a day-to-day basis
- Which spouse made veterinary choices for the pet
The judge can also take into consideration whether one spouse wants to keep the pet over the other. The decision of who the family pet stays with is written in the divorce decree.
Even though a judge will not include custody and visitation rights for a family pet, you and your spouse can do this on your own accord. If you have a schedule you want to work out with your spouse, you can include this in your divorce terms. The terms for the care and visitation of your pet, if decided by spouses, must still be in the divorce decree.
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you are in the midst of a divorce and a family pet is involved, getting an attorney is beneficial. They will make sure that the care of your pet is included in the decree. It will also protect your pet and your rights. If a spouse is uncooperative about the ownership of your pet, you can file for an enforcement. Working with an attorney ensures that you get the best outcome for you and your family. If you have questions about family pets during divorce, contact Navarette Bowen P.C. We have a team of experienced divorce lawyers that can help.
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