Compared to issues like child custody and alimony, property division may be one of the more straightforward aspects of divorce, but when that property includes the family pets, things can get heated quickly. In the state of Texas, pets are considered the same as livestock and fall under the state's property division guidelines.
Signing a prenuptial agreement that stipulates who will get the animals is becoming increasingly popular, but couples already in the process of divorce may find themselves facing having to compromise with their soon-to-be ex-spouses or let the courts make the final decision on where their beloved companions will reside.
In many cases, the court decides to give pets to whoever originally purchased the dog, the party who spent the most time with the animal or the party who took responsibility for the vet bills and everyday care tasks. However, some couples also agree on arrangements that are very much like visitation schedules common in child custody orders. Judges do not have to go with these agreements, but they will in many cases.
Just like with children, pets can often become a battleground in divorces where one party is trying to punish the other and is using the pet as a weapon. In these cases, having legal representation to protect your rights and represent your interests may increase the chances of a property division settlement that is in your favor. The best way to get started is to find out as much information as you can about Texas' property division guidelines from a knowledgeable source with experience in cases involving family pets.
Source: CBS DFW, "Pet Prenups Could Save Divorcing Couples Grief," accessed June 10, 2015