As courts here in Texas and across the country see more and more couples wanting to arrange to share “custody” of their pets after their marriages end, some states are beginning to respond. One state already changed its law regarding treating pets as property in a divorce, and another’s legislature might consider a bill doing the same. Will Texas change its laws at some point? Only time will tell.
In the meantime, couples who negotiate their own divorce settlements could make their own arrangements as part of their agreement. Apparently, most couples neglect to consider what will happen to their pets when they execute a prenuptial agreement, so those decisions are left for the divorce. This often happens because, in many cases, couples only adopt a pet after the marriage.
For those who bring a pet into the marriage, the courts currently consider the pet to be that person’s separate property. However, these days, many people consider their pets to be like children. Like a stepchild, the other party could become attached to the pet during the marriage. If the parties agree, each of them could have some time with the pet after the marriage ends.
Until Texas law changes, pets will continue to be considered property. Therefore, couples who want to give their pets better treatment than they would receive as property might consider adding arrangements to their divorce settlements. The courts generally approve these arrangements so long as they comply with current law and public policy. An attorney might be helpful in negotiating and memorializing an agreement with which both parties can agree.
Source: timestelegram.com, “Who gets the dog in the divorce?“, Matt Lindner, April 1, 2017