When a Texas married couple ends their relationship, they sometimes disagree about important issues that must be resolved in order to achieve a fair settlement. The legal landscape has begun to change in recent years regarding a particular topic, which has to do with determining who gets the family pet in a divorce. In the past, the court has always considered pets to be personal property, meaning that decisions regarding which spouse gets the pet would take place during property division proceedings.
Times are changing in many divorce courts, but not in Texas
While many judges throughout the country have begun considering the well-being and best interests of a dog or other family pet when making decisions in a divorce, in Texas, pet-related decisions are strictly part of property division proceedings. In this state, an economic value must be assigned to a pet as part of marital property disclosure. Therefore, the sentimental or emotional value of a pet is not taken into account, which can create challenges in achieving a settlement, especially if one spouse feels more attached to a pet than the other and believes that he or she should have sole ownership of the animal after divorce.
Spouses can negotiate terms of agreement
As in all aspects of divorce, spouses themselves may execute terms of agreement regarding who gets what. Such negotiations may be especially helpful for Texas spouses who wish to create a co-pet owner plan for their dog, cat or other animal. Such a plan would look similar to a co-parenting schedule that parents with children would agree to for custody, visitation, financial provisions and more. If a particular couple has children and also has a pet, the children’s relationship with the pet would undoubtedly be an important factor in determining who gets the pet after the divorce is finalized.
Financial issues regarding pet care after divorce
A Texas couple filing for divorce must determine who will be responsible for financial expenses associated with pet care. For instance, the family dog will still need to go to the vet. Food supply, pet-sitting services, if needed while owners are at work, and numerous other issues can cost a lot of money. A concerned spouse might want to meet with a family law attorney ahead of time to discuss ways to protect financial interests during proceedings.