Many married couples share pets. Some young couples not yet ready to have children will start out with a cat or a dog. Others may have companion animals in addition to their children.
Pets can often be an emotional complication when spouses decide to divorce. Both of you probably love the pet you have long raised together. However, only one of you can keep the pet after you end your marriage. What happens to your pet when you divorce?
You can’t ask the court for shared pet custody
When you have children together, you can ask the court to divide custody between you and your co-parent. A judge will familiarize themselves with your family circumstances and decide on a custody arrangement that they believe is in the best interests of the children.
That isn’t really an option with a pet. The Texas family courts don’t view animals as family members with human rights but rather as property. Your pet represents a fixed financial value. A judge typically just assigns the animal to one spouse as they divide community property. In some cases, one spouse may be able to show that the animal is their separate property. This can be an option if you had your dog prior to marriage or received it as a gift.
Although you can’t ask the court to order shared pet custody, the two of you can agree to share custody of the pet. The animal could travel back and forth between your home with your children or regularly scheduled intervals. Identifying your pet as a factor in your upcoming divorce can help you work for the best possible arrangement.