Texas has laws that govern most aspects of modern divorce. Couples can follow state law to divide their property and to split responsibilities for the children that they share, or they can litigate.
However, there are no specific state laws discussing what happens to your pet when you divorce. The chances are good that both you and your ex will want to keep your pet when you split up. What will usually happen to your dog, cat or other companion animals during a contentious divorce?
If you don’t reach an agreement, the judge decides
You and your ex can potentially negotiate your own terms for the divorce, including how you handle property division. You could even agree to a shared custody or visitation schedule for a pet.
This could be a way for a divorcing couple to mutually acknowledge how important the animal is to one another or to their shared children. Many families who want to share custody of a pet will have that schedule mirror the arrangements with their children so that the kids are always together with their beloved pet. You could include your agreement in an uncontested divorce filing.
It’s important to understand that the courts in Texas will not create a custody arrangement for your pet even if they might approve one included as part of a larger settlement agreement. If you and your ex litigate the terms of your divorce, a judge will treat your pet like a piece of personal property. They will assign it a specific financial value and then award it to one spouse.
Understanding how the state handles property division can help you plan ahead for your beloved companion animal in your upcoming Texas divorce.