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Can you ask for shared custody of your pet in a Texas divorce?

For married couples without children, pets may be an important part of the family. In fact, even if you have children, you may have a very meaningful bond with a companion animal like a cat or a dog.

Just as concern for children can keep parents trapped in an unhealthy marriage, so too can worries about a pet delay someone who wants to file for divorce. If your relationship has become unsustainable and you worry about having access to your dog or cat, can you ask the Texas courts for shared custody of your pet?

The courts will not create a shared custody order

No matter how much you love your companion animal, in the eyes of Texas judges who must interpret state law, they are property. They won’t create a custody plan, but they can award the pet to one spouse or approve a property settlement that addresses the pet.

Sometimes, a pet is separate property. If the animal was a gift or if a spouse owned it prior to marriage, they may not need to worry about losing access to the animal. However, if they adopted the pet during the marriage, even if they were the only one who took them for walks or scooped the litter, their spouse might receive the pet in property division proceedings.

If you want to ensure that you keep the animal or negotiate a visitation schedule, your best option will likely be to try to settle with your spouse outside of court. The two of you can reach your own agreement even if the courts will not create a pet custody arrangement for you.

Learning more about the laws for Texas divorces can help you work toward the outcome you’re seeking regarding your pet and other matters as you divorce.