Family Pets in Texas Divorces

Many people consider their pets to be a part of the family. Whether it’s our own childhood pet, the pet of a neighbor or longtime friend, the little fury, four legged creatures tend to be very important to us as human beings.

Even the toughest, surliest individuals can soften up at the sight of a puppy dog or kitty cat. What happens though when two dog lovers lose the affection for each other but the love for Fido remains?

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC are prepared to describe how the family pet can be affected by adivorce in Texas.

Texas Law Considers Family Pets Personal Property

Pets are, despite what we may feel in our hearts, considered to be personal property in Texas. While child custody is a specific element of any divorce case in Texas where children under the age of eighteen are involved, the Texas Family Code does not take into consideration the family pet and who is entitled to visitation with the animal or on what days.

A judge has a certain standard by which to govern his or her decision on conservatorship, possession, access and visitation of a child. The same cannot be explicitly said for the family pet but if it came right down to it a judge would probably weigh similar factors when determining who ends up with the dog.

Which party will be living in a house with a backyard, and which one will be living in an apartment, etc. Does one party travel more frequently than the other and the past behavior of each party towards the animal would also be relevant questions for a court to inquire on.

If the Wife in a marriage forgot to feed the dog for a week while the Husband was away that may be a relevant anecdote to share with the Court. Without taking it to this extreme example of having a person in a black robe decide “custody” of the family pet- how can the parties help decide the issue themselves without the need to burden the court?

Pre-divorce Partitions

Pre-divorce partitions offer one such solution to the above problem. These agreed to in writing documents that are considered prior to the time the parties get married are very much enforceable as a contract in conjunction with divorce proceedings.

A judge will consider these written agreements that specifically lay out how the pet in question will spend his or her days should the marriage relationship not work out and divorce becomes necessary.

For instance, if the family dog were owned by the Husband prior to the marriage, a pre-divorce partition may specifically state this and therefore cause the animal to be a part of the Husband’s separate estate and not subject to “division” by a Court at all.

This does away with the tedious requirement of the Husband having to prove to a judge that the animal truly is a part of his separate estate.

Visitation Schedule for the Family Pet?

Typically, a judge will not decide a visitation schedule for an animal and its human parents. The Court will have a difficult enough time in determining the issues regard the parties’ actual children and the rest of the marital estate without having to delve into issues regarding the family pet.

This is all the more reason for the parties to have either come to an agreement before the marriage on who should get the dog in the event of a divorce, or for the parties to hammer out an agreement on this subject during divorce negotiations.

Either option is preferable than to have a judge (who doesn’t know either party or the pet) have to decide the issue for them. Deciding to go this route requires some degree of forethought and planning. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC can assist you and your spouse in the drafting and formalizing of this type of pre-divorce partition.

The Just and Right Division in Texas

Ultimately, as in dividing up other pieces of property and debt, if a pet is part of the community property estate, a 50/50 split in the property will usually occur absent a convincing argument otherwise.

A lot of times what makes sense for parties to do is to agree to have the dog/cat accompany the children during periods of possession with either parent. This can accomplish two things simultaneously:

  1. it allows for the parent to see their pet on a structured basis
  2. it allows the children to have the comfort of their fury friend during the difficult transition into post-divorce life for the family.

Negotiating for Access to the Pet

For a party who is particular desperate to keep the dog with them, that person is able to negotiate for this arrangement by giving something up elsewhere.

For most people, this is ceding additional money to their spouse in a divorce in order to maintain the time and access they desire with their dog.

Additionally, while each of our pets may be priceless in value to us as individuals, in a divorce where a dollar value is typically assigned to each piece of property, it may be difficult to assign an actual dollar figure to a pet.

If a pet is a purebred, then the value of the dog, cat, etc. may be based on what that animal could be sold for in the market. Whether this is an advisable thing to do is up for debate- but each individual situation should be judged on its own merits.

Divorce can be an excruciating process no matter what the circumstances are. When a family is extremely close to their pet the prospect of losing time with the animal can be almost more than some people are able to tolerate. There are ways to assist in ensuring that stability associated with the pet is maintained even after a divorce occurs. The Houston divorce lawyers with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC understand the attachment that clients have to their pets and are able to assist and advocate for our clients’ rights to their four legged friends.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. What happens to your pet in a Texas divorce?
  2. Pet Custody and other Considerations in a Texas Divorce?
  3. Who gets the Family Pet in a Divorce in Texas?
  4. Dividing Property in a Texas Divorce – The Just and Right Division
  5. Why is Separate Property Important and How to Keep it Separate in a Texas Divorce?
  6. What Wikipedia Can’t Tell you About Texas Divorce and Marital Property Division
  7. Texas Divorce Property Division Enforcement
  8. Separate Property in a Texas Divorce?
  9. Does it Matter Whose Name is on Title or Deed of Property in a Divorce in Texas?
  10. Is Social Security Considered Separate Property in a Texas Divorce
  11. Business Owners and Business Assets in a Texas Divorce

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Kingwood Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s important to speak with ar Kingwood, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.

A divorce lawyer in Kingwood TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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