During a divorce, your mind is probably occupied with issues such as child
custody, alimony, parenting plans and division of property, but there’s
one aspect that tends to get overlooked—pet custody. Unlike your children, the courts will consider your dogs and cats as property.
So how does the law determine who gets to keep the pets after a divorce?
If the custody of a pet is clear-cut, meaning that one person owned them
before the marriage, it is considered separate property and custody would
belong to the person who originally owned them. However, if a couple buys
or adopts a pet during marriage, this makes the pet community property.
To make a decision, a judge will take the following into consideration:
- Which spouse has played the role of primary caretaker of the pet?
- Who has been meeting the daily needs of the pet?
- Has either spouse neglected or abused the pet?
- What do work and travel schedules look like?
- Who has possession of the children and do they have a close relationship
to the pet?
In pet custody cases, judges do not typically award visitation schedules
unless both spouses are in agreement. When multiple pets are involved,
the animals may be split between the two spouses. In rare cases, a judge
may even order a pet to be sold and have the money divided between the
spouses. While a judge may have the final say, a legal agreement before
marriage can ensure you maintain custody of your beloved pet in the case
of a divorce.
If you are going through a divorce and need help getting custody of your
dog or cat, contact our
Houston divorce lawyers at the Law Office of Kathryn Marteeny. We have over 30 years of experience
handling family law matters such as visitation, child support and pre-nuptial
Call (713) 936-2300 or contact us online
for an initial consultation.