Divorcing couples with children often spend a lot of their time and energy negotiating parenting plans. Sharing custody allows both parents to take responsibility for a child’s needs and play an active role in their life.
Younger couples that don’t yet have children sometimes test the waters of parenthood with pets. If you have a beloved canine companion, can you and your ex request to share pet custody in your upcoming divorce?
The courts won’t spend time on a pet custody plan
In a litigated divorce, spouses rely on a judge to make decisions about their unresolved issues. A judge can divide property and split up parental responsibilities by interpreting state law. However, Texas does not have a law that requires the court to treat animals like children.
Instead, the courts view pets as property worth a fixed amount of money rather than living beings whose best interests should matter. If a judge has to decide what happens with your pet, they will award it to one spouse and consider the value of the animal for other property division decisions.
You can always settle outside of court
Although a family law judge will not spend court resources creating a shared custody plan for your Chihuahua, you and your ex can theoretically reach any settlement you want outside of court. You can create a settlement that includes a pet parenting plan and ask the judge to approve it.
Both of you would need to cooperate for such arrangements to work. You would likely have difficulty enforcing any such agreement in court based on existing Texas precedent. Knowing the rules that apply in a Texas divorce can help you decide on the right approach to the process.