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How are pets handled in a divorce?

Many Houston residents enjoy having a pet. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 44 percent of Texas residents own a dog. In the United States, 62 percent of households have at least one pet. Pets are beloved family members that often get mixed up in a divorce settlement. So how are pets handled in a divorce?

There is a good chance that a couple going through a divorce has a pet. In some cases one spouse is more attached to the animal, which makes it easy to decide who gets to keep it. Or one spouse may be moving to a place that doesn't allow animals. There are times that both spouses want to keep the animal, which can result in a traumatizing situation.

Animals are considered personal property in a divorce and are part of the property division process. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can lay out what will be done with the family pets in a divorce. If either of these divorce legal documents are not included in the marriage, the court will look at a few different matters.

If the pet belonged to one spouse before marriage, it will likely go to that spouse at the divorce. If there are kids involved, the pets usually go to where the kids go. Custody can be arranged for the pets to go to both spouses as well as the children.

Courts may also look at who is the primary pet caregiver. If there is one spouse who does most of the feeding, doctor visits and walking, then the court may give the animals to that spouse. Finally a court may look at who has a lifestyle that is more suited to pet ownership. If one spouse works long hours and travels and the other works from home, that can be a factor.

Pets are very important members of families and during a divorce it can be hard to determine who gets to keep the family pets. There are many factors that help a court decide who keeps the pet.

Source: dailyworth.com, "What about the dog? How pets are handled in divorce", Jeffrey Landers, April 24, 2015

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

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