If you’ve recently made the difficult decision to file for divorce from your spouse, you may be mulling over the custody decisions you’ll soon need to make when it comes to your children. While you may think of your pets as part of the family, in most states, including Texas, they’re legally considered property — and relinquishing physical control of your pets early in the divorce process could spell problems later. Read on to learn more about how Texas laws treat pets in divorce, as well as what you’ll want to do to ensure you can continue to maintain a relationship with your furry friend even after ending your marriage.
How Do Texas Laws Govern Pets?
In Texas, pets are considered property — and, like other property, are subject to division in divorce. Texas is a “community property” state, which means each spouse has an equal claim to property accumulated during the marriage, even if there’s a disparity in income or earning potential between spouses. These community property laws can make the division of a pet acquired during marriage challenging, especially if the pet is used for breeding purposes and generates some income.
Ideally, you and your ex-spouse will be able to come to an agreement about pet custody, allowing you both to spend time with your pet without stress or rancor. In situations where shared custody isn’t possible, you’ll want to consider the best interests of the pet when determining whether you or your ex-spouse will be the better full-time guardian.
If this pet can be considered an income-producing asset, the person who receives custody may be require to give up some other assets so that the final financial settlement is more equitable.
What Should You Do To Prevent Yourself From Being Cut Off From A Beloved Pet?
Although “possession is nine-tenths of the law” is a figurative expression that’s usually inaccurate, when it comes to property (and pet) division in divorce, overturning the status quo can be a difficult prospect. As a result, you’ll want to do all you can to avoid giving up physical control of your pet early in the divorce process.
In most cases, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of an attorney when considering divorce. If you’re facing a potentially messy battle over control of a pet, seeking legal assistance can be crucial. If you’ve already moved out of the marital home or don’t have your pet physically living with you, convincing the court that this pet should be removed from your ex-spouse and placed with you can be a challenge best handled by a legal professional.