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Should pet custody remain part of property division in divorce?

In many homes, pets are considered to be cherished family members and are loved almost as much as children. As a result, the idea of parting with a beloved pet after a divorce is often repugnant to Texas pet parents. Unfortunately, pets are usually considered to be a part of the property division when it comes to settling a divorce.

Recently, a third state passed a more comprehensive law that gives family court judges the option of considering which spouse could provide a more suitable home for a pet in question. Judges who choose to take on this matter during a divorce hearing will often take into consideration such questions as who was the primary caregiver and whether a pet was purchased as a gift or was a joint decision. Though some view the law as unnecessary, others applaud the effort to treat pets as more than possessions.

In cases where a divorcing couple is fighting over custody of a pet, dogs make up an estimated 88 percent of the cases. Cat come in second with approximately 5 percent of the disputes over their ownership. While some judges are sympathetic to the issue, others express annoyance of having to get involved in this issue. Divorce attorneys across the country report that they are seeing more couples who are unable to resolve this issue on their own.

While the recent California law still places the question of pet custody under the heading of property division, it does go further than previous laws. There is speculation that more states will attempt to devise their own laws, which may treat pets more as an asset rather than property. Texas residents who are struggling to arrive at an agreeable solution may be best served by consulting with an attorney who is skilled in drafting settlements that will best meet one's needs.

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