It’s increasingly common for young Texas couples to put off having children until they’re more financially stable even after they’re married. Perhaps, as a result, many young married couples end up adopting a dog or other pet. When they get divorced, though, there’s always the question of who gets the dog in the divorce. It can be a point of tension, especially if both owners are equally involved in the dog’s care.
How does the court handle pets?
When deciding which parent gets primary custody of human children, the court will take its time to make a decision. The best interests of the children are prioritized, and each parent has to make a case as to why he or she should get custody.
Four-legged children don’t get the same treatment from the court. In most divorces, the pet is considered property. This isn’t due to cruelness, but more a matter of time and resources.
So who gets the dog?
Most property is either split 50/50, or the court will decide based on several different factors. For example, if you and your ex bought a house together and don’t have children, the court may order that you sell the house and split the profits equally.
The same rules apply to a dog or other pet. If you bought the dog together and can’t come to a decision as to who gets the dog, the court may order you to sell the dog and split the profits. For this reason, most divorce lawyers will advise divorcing couples to settle the dog dispute themselves or in mediation.
When both pet parents love their dog, it’s usually easier for them to come up with some sort of custody or ownership agreement outside of the court. It’s still important to treat it like any other legal agreement.