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Family Pets and Divorce

Pets in DivorceSeveral years ago, a couple with three dogs, two cats, and a rabbit filed for divorce. According to Texas law, the animals were pieces of property owned jointly by the couple, and since Texas is a community property state, the animals were divided between the couple just like all other assets in the marital estate; the dogs were given to the wife and the cats to the husband. The rabbit died during the divorce proceedings. When it came time for the animals to move to their respective homes, the wife refused to turn the cats over to her ex-husband. On seven different occasions, she appeared in court and told the judge the cats ran away. The court then discovered she had been hiding the cats, sentenced her to 30 days in jail for contempt of court, and forced her to turn the cats over to her ex.

What Happens to Pets in a Texas Divorce?

If you and your spouse develop an arrangement in which you share your pets, the court will honor your agreement and make it enforceable by including it in the final divorce decree. If you cannot agree, the court will treat your pets as they would any other property, like your boat or car. Don’t leave the future of your four-legged family members up to fate. A skilled, family law attorney may be able to help you prove that the pets are your separate property.

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