Who Gets the Family Pet in Property Division?

Divorce is a very difficult time for most people.  Apart from the obvious issues like support, child custody issues and access, and property division issues, there’s also the matter of who gets the family pet.

Many pet owners have a strong mutual attachment to their furry friends.  A recent report from the American Pet Products Association reveals that pet industry revenues were expected to be more than $75 billion in 2019.  The expenditures are for food, veterinary care, gifts, clothes and even portraits of the pet. In fact, the term “fur babies” has become quite common as more and more people have come to regard their pets almost as children.

Some jurisdictions have taken the divorcing parties’ emotional attachment and the welfare of the pet into consideration.  In 2010, an Alabama appeals court ruled that “where a pet is the subject of a division of property, the courts sometimes consider the best interest of the animal”.  The Vermont Supreme Court said that family courts “may consider … welfare of the animal and the emotional connection between the animal and each spouse”.

However, contrary to how many “pet parents” In Texas view their pets, the courts in Texas (and many other states) regard them as being “marital property” to be awarded or disposed of like any other piece of property such as cars and appliances.   

In property settlements, whether the “property” be animate or inanimate, your wisest course of action is to get the best legal representation available.  

Call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation or complete our online form.

Texas Divorces — Who Gets the Tax Refund?

Under Texas law, anything of value acquired during the marriage, including a tax refund, is presumed to be community property. That means that both spouses have to split it evenly, right?  Not necessarily. It is not that cut and dry. The court takes into consideration specific factors on a case-by-case basis with the objective of a fair and equitable division of the marital estate.

Sometimes, the parties have been living apart, so the court can divide the return based on the length of time of cohabitation with the children.  Other times, back child support is due as a result of living apart, so the tax return can be taken for the purposes of paying the back child support.

The United States tax laws govern who shall claim the children for tax refunds, so it is always advisable to seek an independent opinion from a certified tax professional.

Ultimately, however, division of the tax refund belongs in the province of the divorce court.

Call us for a free consultation to learn more at (956) 428-2822.

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