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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Custody and Pets

Term Definition Custody and Pets - sometimes a consideration in the distribution of property.
Application in Divorce In a 1981 Texas divorce case, an appeals court noted that a contested dog, Bonnie Lou, "is indeed a fortunate little dog with two humans to shower upon her attention and genuine love frequently not received by human children from their divorced parents."

That people come love their dogs and cats to this degree surprises no one who has even known the love of animals. So it is also not surprising that courts have been asked to make Solomonic decisions about dividing the family dog or cat.

In general in some decisions involving domesticated animals, courts have held that pets -- dogs and cats -- are personal property, and that applicable principles about dividing personal property apply to the custody of a pet. If a court determines that an animal is marital property or property that may be awarded to one party or the other, it may consider "who would better care for the pet and who really had greater attachment to the pet."

This is not the same as a ’best interest of the animal’ standard, and courts have shied away from visitation. "Our courts are overwhelmed with the supervision of custody, visitation and support matters related to the protection of our children. We cannot undertake the same responsibility as to animals," one appellate court observed.

See Pets.

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