For Texas couples going through a divorce, it is no secret that property division and other aspects of the divorce process can become heated and emotionally charged. Child custody may well be the most infamously difficult facet of divorce, but sometimes battles over animals become charged as well. Though some people argue over custody of pets with as much fervor as they would for custody of a child, the law recognizes animals as only part of property division, just like cars and other assets.
Some judges recognize the importance of the bond between an owner and animal, and they therefore may allow members of a couple to present cases on why he or she should have custody of the animal. In general, judges who go by this method will try to determine which member of the couple was most involved in the animal’s day-to-day care and therefore most likely has a bond with the animal.
However, in some cases, people will use shared animals as a way to get revenge on an ex or try to manipulate the divorce proceedings. In one instance, a woman who was ordered to drop off a parrot so her husband could care for the animal whispered to her husband that the bird would be dead upon arrival. The judge in the case overheard the woman, admonished her, and warned that the bird needed to be returned in perfect health.
For those who are facing divorce with the prospect of dividing up animals, it may be wise to seek the counsel of a lawyer who understands an owner’s attachment to his or her pets. A lawyer who can advocate for pet custody may well prove to be an asset in the divorce courtroom.
Source: The Daily Beast, “Divorce Is Going to the Dogs, Literally“, Keli Goff, June 20, 2014