Who Keeps the Dog in a Divorce

Who Keeps the Dog in a Divorce?

Pets are integral to many families, so deciding their fate during a divorce can be incredibly emotional. Unfortunately, Texas law views pets as personal property, meaning they fall under the state’s property division statutes.


As a Dallas family lawyer, I often guide clients through these sensitive negotiations. Let’s break down how Texas courts typically handle pet ownership during divorce so you have a better idea of who keeps the dog in divorce.


Factors Divorce Court Consider for Pets

There isn’t a straightforward answer to who gets the pet. Unlike child custody, where the focus is on the child’s best interests, courts don’t have that same luxury with pets. They might consider:


  • Who purchased the pet: If one spouse owned the pet prior to marriage, it’s often considered separate property, remaining with that spouse.
  • Primary caregiver: Who handled vet visits, feeding, walking, and training? This shows responsibility in ownership.
  • Bonding with family members: Is the pet particularly attached to one spouse? Do the children have a strong connection with the pet?
  • Best Life: Which spouse has the space or resources to give the pet a fulfilling and comfortable life?

Who Gets Pet Ownership in Divorce?

Ideally, you and your spouse amicably decide who keeps the pet.

Mediation can be a great way to facilitate conversations about dividing property, including pets. If that’s not possible, the court may ultimately decide, potentially leaving both parties unhappy.

Here are some possible outcomes:

  • Sole ownership: One spouse gets full ownership and responsibility for the pet.
  • Joint Custody: You could share time with the pet, though this comes with potential logistical challenges.
  • Buyout: This is rare, but if the pet is valuable, one spouse might keep the pet in exchange for compensation paid to the other.

Protecting Your Rights and Your Pet’s Well-Being

Divorce is stressful, and the thought of losing your furry companion can worsen the situation. Here’s what to do:


  • Document anything that could demonstrate your connection and commitment to the pet (vet records in your name, adoption papers, photos, videos, etc.).
  • Prepare an argument after considering what’s truly best for your pet’s health and happiness. Can you realistically provide the space, attention, and care it needs?
  • Seek legal counsel, like Nilsson Legal Group: Our Fort Worth divorce lawyers know the intricacies of property division in Texas and can advocate for your rights regarding your pet.  Call our office at (817) 953-6688 for information.


Divorce Attorney in Fort Worth Spencer Nilsson

I’m Spencer Nilsson, a family law attorney in Fort Worth, Texas. In 2013, I founded Nilsson Legal Group, focusing solely on family law. Since then, our attorneys helped hundreds of clients in Tarrant County and nearby areas in North Texas to achieve favorable outcomes to keep their pets. We understand the emotional and legal challenges families face, including who keeps the family pet, and we’re committed to providing compassionate and skilled representation.


Family Attorneys You Can Trust

While pets bring immense joy, determining who gets to keep the dog in divorce adds another layer of complexity to an already difficult situation. Understanding your legal options and presenting a strong case helps protect your interests and those of your beloved animal companion.


At Nilsson Legal Group, we understand the deep bond between you and your pets. If you’re facing divorce, we’ll help you navigate these challenging dynamics and work towards the best possible resolution for everyone involved. Schedule a consultation today to discuss your unique situation.  Our office is conveniently located at 930 W. 1st. St, Suite 200 in Fort Worth, Texas.