If you’re going through a divorce, two of the main agreements you need to reach are regarding property division and the allocation of child custody rights. Marital property has to be divided between you and your spouse. If you have children, you have to divide parenting time and decision-making power.
But what if you have a pet? Perhaps you and your spouse got married, bought a house and then rescued a dog. You think of your dog as part of your family. Is the court going to issue a custody plan so that the two of you can share ownership of the dog after your divorce?
What does the law say?
No, the court will not determine custody. Dogs may feel like part of your family, but they are still just personal property under Texas law. This means they are not part of the custody process.
However, they do fall under property division. As such, the court may determine that your spouse gets the dog and you get something else that cost a similar amount of money. Many people find this unsatisfactory because they value the dog more than other possessions, but monetary value is the only thing that the court has to go off of.
If you and your spouse would like, you may have the option to create a custody schedule or a plan to share your pet. There’s nothing preventing you from doing so. But you would both have to agree to follow this plan. If you can’t, the court isn’t going to enforce it.
As you can imagine, this makes divorce fairly contentious for some couples. When you find yourself in this position, be sure you know what legal options you have.