Leaving a spouse is one thing, but saying goodbye to a pet is another altogether. For many people in Texas, pets are truly members of the family, making separating from them a painful and difficult experience. However, going through a divorce does not mean potentially giving up on ever seeing a beloved animal again.

In the past, pets were treated as little more than property during divorce proceedings. Whoever bought the pet or paid the majority of its associated bills or costs “won.” Now, as the obsession of Americans with their pets reach new heights, this old approach is no longer cutting it. Owners often ascribe feelings of parenthood to their pooches or cats, and spending on pets hit an all-time high of $86.7 billion in 2018.

With both an emotional and financial investment on the line, what are pet owners to do? Some choose to approach the matter like child custody. Parents may choose to have their four-legged family members commute back and forth with their children, essentially folding them into their already established child custody agreements. Others may negotiate separate arrangements altogether for their animals.

Texas pet owners may try to keep their pet disputes out of court since judges tend to still treat animals as property during divorce. When working together outside of court, divorcing couples can sort out an appropriate arrangement for who will see the dog when and how related costs will be handled. Since family law can be complicated, many people still choose to work with an experienced attorney who can ensure that their best interests are respected throughout the process.