In millions of households across the United States and Texas, humans consider pets part of the family. However, it is important to realize that in Texas law, the courts will treat a pet as property, rather than the way the courts would approach child custody.
The state of Texas has communal property laws. Generally speaking, with this distribution courts will split any communal property equally between the married couple. However, of course, you cannot split a pet in two. This means that either the couple will need to decide who gets to keep the pet, or the court will decide.
How can the couple decide?
It is not a bad idea for persons about to get married to put custodial wishes regarding any pets into a prenup. Again, unlike children, Texas considers pets to be property. One of the easiest ways to avoid an argument about what is communal property and what is not is to delineate this in a prenup.
How will the courts decide?
If there are no pre-agreed-upon stipulations for pet custody and the couple themselves cannot decide who gets to keep the pet, then the courts will step in. In this instance, the judge will look at the animal the same way it will look at any other piece of property.
Some questions a judge may take into consideration include who was a primary caretaker of the pet, and what each party’s work and travel schedules are like. Additionally, if there are any children involved in the divorce, judges often put the pets with the parent who has the children the majority of the time.