Pets_Custody_Visitation_Divorce

Getting Custody of Pets in a Divorce

We all know people who treat their pets like their children. Some of us are those people. So what happens when a couple gets divorced and their beloved pets are thrown into the mix? How is pet custody determined?

Awarding “Property”

As much as we love our pets, the law in Texas does not consider them to be people. In our state, pets are property. Like all property, dogs, cats, hamsters and snakes must be divided upon divorce or sold. That means a Judge can only award your precious pooch to you or your soon-to-be ex spouse.

Once awarded, you should not expect to have an order for visitation with the family feline any more than you should expect to be able to drive your former spouse’s vehicle every other weekend.

Pets_custody_visitation_divorce

For some of the more emotionally entrenched pet parents, there could be a transition period. Before the divorce is final, either side may ask for temporary orders. These are orders which will give the parties ground rules to live by until the divorce is over.

Temporary orders are interlocutory by nature, which means they cannot be appealed to the Civil Appellate Court. That means a judge could order doggy visitation on a temporary basis. Don’t think it’s too outlandish. It’s happened in a case I was in.

Pet Visitation Agreements

At the end of the divorce, however, the Judge had to award the pets. As it is with so many other things, there is an exception. Parties can often agree on things that a Judge can’t order. If the spouses can agree on cat visitation or dog visitation, then that agreement may be put into a Final Decree of Divorce and relied upon by both sides.

Ideally a cat or dog custody agreement can be reached between spouses so that all parties can maintain relationships. Don’t think it can’t happen because that, too, has happened in a couple of cases I’ve been in.

Dog Custody? Cat Custody? Horse Custody?

Some people love their pets like they’re children. It sometimes takes some creativity to protect them and preserve your relationship with your dog, cat, horse or whatever the animal is that you love.