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.

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