Can I Keep My Dog After a Divorce?

Who gets the pet in a divorce?

Many dog owners treat their pets as if they were family. As a result, divorce can be psychologically stressful for both you and your dog. This is especially true if it is uncertain whether you will be able to keep your pet.

Unfortunately, Texas divorce courts treat dogs as property and not as family members. Like other types of property during divorce, it is not always clear which spouse will receive the dog. You or your spouse could receive the dog after a divorce if it is considered community property.

However, there are circumstances where a dog may not be considered community property. For instance, you will most likely be able to keep your dog if you bought it before your marriage. You may also be able to keep the dog if you inherited it from a family member or received it as a gift during your marriage.

If the dog was purchased by you and your spouse during marriage, then the divorce court will consider it community property. Either you or your spouse could receive the dog. When deciding who will receive the pet, the court could look at factors that include:

  • Who took care of the dog by feeding it, taking it on walks or paying for its medical expenses
  • Which person is more able to take care of the dogs needs after the divorce
  • Which person spends more time bonding with the dog

These are only a few of many possible examples. However, if the court lets you keep the dog, then you may have to give up an asset of equal value to your spouse.

Are There Other Options for Keeping My Dog After a Divorce?

There are other options that can help resolve pet ownership problems during a divorce. For example, you and your spouse could agree to joint-visitation terms during mediation. In fact, mediation takes place out of court, meaning the rules mentioned above do not apply. You could also strike an agreement before filing for divorce.

Lewisville family law lawyer Jared Julian has years of experience helping North Texas residents with difficult issues that stem from filing for a divorce. He is also a licensed mediator.