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How the family pet can factor into a divorce

As many Texas residents may be aware, the role of pets in a family is very important. To many families, the pet is not just a "thing" or even a "pet"; their dog or cat becomes a crucial member of their family. There are even families who think of their dog or cat (or any other pet) as the son or daughter they never had.

Not only is there nothing wrong with this, but it also poses a very important question when it comes to a couple filing for divorce. Namely, what happens to that pet when the spouses split? Is the pet dealt with like a piece of property? Or is there a more nuanced solution to the case?

The answer to those questions? It depends.

In most cases, the pet is considered a piece of property and, therefore, would be subject to the property division laws observed in that state. However, the spouses could come to an arrangement before anything even goes to trial. Pet schedules could be established, and the divorced spouses could essentially treat the issue like a joint child custody case.

Pet custody is increasingly prominent in the world of divorce. Lawyers continue to report more divorces that involve a pet, and the contention involved in the case due to the differing views the warring spouses have about their beloved cat or dog. With that in mind, it is important for any divorcing spouses who have pets to realize that there can be legitimate and agreeable solutions to their pet custody matter.

Source: New York Post, "Landmark custody battle over dog in divorce," Julia Marsh, Dec. 4, 2013

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