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Dogs can make divorce complicated


There is no denying how far some owners in Texas will go for their animals. From researching the most nutritious foods to making sure their beloved pets are up-to-date with vaccinations, many cats and dogs are like fully-fledged family members. However, family law does not view beloved pets as anything more than property, which can severely complicate the divorce process.

Couples beginning their journey through divorce sometimes expect to set up custody arrangements similar to child custody agreements, and are shocked to discover that this is far from the case. Much like a shared home or other property that can be divided or sold with the dividends shared, the family dog is seen as nothing more than property. This does not stop some pet parents from handling pet ownership in their own fashion.

In one out-of-state case, a couple’s purebred dog was the ultimate focus of the divorce. Although the husband had performed the breed research and screened many different breeders before the couple brought home their beloved dog, the wife had registered the pup as her emotional support animal. After learning that the judge would order them to sell their dog and share the profit, they worked out an agreement between themselves.

Another case involved a judge who ordered a slightly unusual solution. When the divorcing couple could not decide who could maintain ownership of the family dog, a court marshal was ordered to transport the dog to an area park where both of its “parents” were waiting. The judge ordered that whoever the dog ran to would keep the dog. In the end, the dog ran to the wife and the husband was awarded $500.

Although dogs are considered property in Texas, many owners view their pets as children. This can be difficult to handle during divorce, when judges may order one couple to “buy” the dog from the other or request that it be sold to a third party altogether. For complicated matters such as this, it is often a good idea to seek the guidance of an experienced counsel who understands how family law might apply to individual cases.

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