Who Gets Fido? Pet Custody After a Divorce in Texas

Who Gets Fido? Pet Custody After a Divorce in Texas

Our pets are often beloved members of our family, but legally, our four-legged friends are considered property in the State of Texas. This can lead to some serious stress and conflict if you and your spouse end your marriage. Fortunately, many judges are pet owners themselves or understand the deep ties you may have with your pet, so they may be willing to consider your pet’s custody more carefully and rule in favor of the pet’s best interests. Here are some things you should know about pet custody during a Texas divorce.

Write Down Your Custodial Wishes for Your Pet

If you can’t stand the thought of your pet leaving your side, you may want to write down your wishes for their custody. This information can be included in a prenuptial agreement, cohabitation agreement, or partition agreement. If you’ve already married, a postnuptial agreement can also help.

In child custody cases, the judge will always consider the best interests of the child over the parents’ desires. When it comes to pet custody, however, the law only allows for pets to be treated as property. The judge will need to first determine whether the pet is separate property, belonging to one spouse, or marital property, belonging to both spouses.

If the pet was purchased or adopted before the marriage, it is likely to be considered separate property, and custody will be awarded to the owning spouse. If the pet was gained during the course of the marriage, the pet will be considered community property, and the custody of the pet will need to be determined with the rest of the marriage’s assets and property. If this is the case, the judge is likely to evaluate the roles both spouses play in caring for the pet and obtaining the pet.

What Factors Will Judges Use to Decide Custody?

As with any complex property settlement case, the judge will need to determine the animal’s status as community or separate property before proceeding. If the pet is community property, the judge will delve deeper into the matter. Here are some things judges may consider to determine which spouse is better prepared to care for the pet:

  • Which spouse has been the primary caretaker?
  • Which spouse meets the daily needs of the pet?
  • Has either spouse neglected or abuse the pet in any way?
  • Which spouse has the more pet-friendly work and travel schedule?
  • What are the custody arrangements for any children, and are they close to the pet?

The judge will strive to place the pet in the best household, where its needs will be met properly. If the children of the divorcing couple share a bond with the pet, the judge is likely to place the pet with the spouse who has primary custody of the children.

If there is more than one pet in a divorce, there is a good chance that the judge will split up the pets and award each pet to the spouse who is better equipped to prepare for that pet. Dogs may be awarded to the spouse who will be home more often, while a cat may be given to the spouse who works more or travels more.

Pet Visitation

The judge will not award a visitation schedule for your pet. Unlike your human children, your fur-children cannot legally have a binding visitation agreement determined by a judge. What a judge can do, however, is enforce any arrangements that the spouses can agree upon. Explicit terms spelled out in an agreement, such as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, can help simplify these issues.

How You Can Protect Your Custody

It can be stressful if you are unsure of your pet’s fate. Laying out your wishes in another agreement, such as a prenuptial agreement, can help simplify these matters. If you don’t have such agreements in place, you’ll need to take steps to prove you are the spouse who should have continued custody of the animal.

You will need to provide evidence that demonstrates your commitment to the animal or animals in your household. This evidence can include:

  • A pet license or adoption application with your signature
  • An affidavit from your veterinarian that states you are the person who tends to the pet’s medical needs
  • Receipts from pet supply stores, grooming, and other pet services with your payment information.
  • Witness statements from neighbors, other dog-park visitors, or friends who can speak to your dedication to your pet’s care and wellbeing.

Contact Our Katy Divorce Attorney – (281) 764-6087

If you’re facing a divorce, you shouldn’t face it alone. At the Adams Law Firm, we’re committed to supporting our clients in every way possible through the divorce process. Our Katy divorce attorneys have more than 35 years of experience under our belts, so you can trust that we’re ready to assist you with your divorce case—no matter how complex.

Begin your case with a consultation. Contact us at (281) 391-9237 today.


Why You Shouldn’t File for Divorce Without a Divorce Lawyer

You may be exploring ways to file a divorce without an attorney, hoping to save money or time during your divorce. While there is no legal reason you cannot file for a divorce without a lawyer, there are many benefits to having one. It may even save you money in the long run. Here are some reasons you shouldn’t file for divorce without an experienced attorney on your side.

Divorcing Without Legal Representation Can Cost You

If you’re considering a DIY divorce—don’t. Even if you and your spouse are ending your marriage amicably, you still should at least hire a divorce attorney to review your divorce agreement terms to ensure they meet the legal requirements of your state and that a judge will agree to them.

If your marriage is ending in a less-than-friendly way, you’ll benefit from having the insight and experience of a divorce attorney to assist you. Even if you and your spouse manage to negotiate the terms of your divorce on your own, your lawyer can serve as a representative on your behalf, advise your decisions, and help you understand the long-term impact of your choices.

In litigation, your attorney will represent your best interests and help to ensure you receive a fair share of your marriage’s assets, a favorable custody or visitation schedule with your children, and even advocate for a fair amount of child support payments. Without a strong, knowledgeable legal advocate on your side, it’s easy to make mistakes that can end up costing you considerably at the end of the divorce.

Your Attorney Has Considerable Knowledge to Share

Are you familiar with the judges in your local family law court? Do you know the divorce laws of your state? Are you able to calculate and understand the tax impact if you choose to try and keep the house, rather than selling it and splitting the profits? You may not know all these things, but it is the job of your lawyer to know it. Why struggle through your divorce alone, when your attorney can provide invaluable insight, experience, and knowledge?

Attorneys Help Prevent Mistakes

It’s natural to make mistakes when encountering something you’re unfamiliar with. Unfortunately, small mistakes can equal big consequences in a divorce. Your lawyer is there to make sure your case goes smoothly, to manage the details of it, and to mitigate mistakes, so you can receive a favorable outcome, no matter what your goals for your divorce are.

Ready to Begin Your Divorce? Call Our Katy Divorce Lawyers – (281) 391-9237

At the Adams Law Firm, our compassionate team is ready to fight for your needs. We understand the unique challenges of a divorce, and our Katy divorce attorneys will work closely with you to develop a legal strategy for your needs and goals.


Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Divorce Attorney

If you’re considering a divorce, you may also be considering hiring a divorce lawyer to help you through the process. Finding the right divorce attorney, however, is easier said than done. If you’ve never worked with a lawyer, you may have no idea what to expect. Family law and divorce cases are their own unique area of the law, which can make it even more challenging to know if you’re making a good choice when choosing an attorney. Let our Katy divorce lawyers take the guesswork out of hiring an attorney with these questions you should ask a potential lawyer:

  • Do you specialize in divorces, or are they only one aspect of your practice? You’ll want to know more about their experience with divorce cases, so it’s important to find out how long they’ve been handling divorce cases, what percentage of their practice is devoted to divorces, and if they have any certifications, such as being a certified family law specialist.
  • What is your strategy for my case? You’ll want to work with an attorney who will work towards your goals. If their strategy won’t meet your goals, keep looking. You also should find out how long they estimate it will take to resolve your divorce.
  • How will you communicate with me? Get the details on how long it should take for a phone call to be returned, who will be calling, who you can call, and how you can contact your attorney in the event of an emergency.
  • Who else will be working on my case? Many law firms have multiple attorneys, paralegals, assistants, and administrative professionals working there. Find out who you can expect to be involved in your case, what they will be doing, and what their experience is. It also doesn’t hurt to find out if you can meet them.
  • How will I be charged? Learn more about their hourly rates, how they will bill you, and whether you will be billed for time spent talking to paralegals, legal assistants, or others in the office. You should also ask about their retainer fees.
  • What costs, besides attorney fees, do you expect during my case? Filing fees, court costs, document handling, investigators, forensic accountants, psychologists, mediators, and other costs can all add up quickly, so it’s important to know what you may be paying for ahead of time.
  • What’s your best estimate of the cost of my divorce? Beware of attorneys who give you a low price, since they are trying to just get your business. An honest lawyer should explain to you how different factors can affect the cost and how they may affect your overall divorce expenses.
  • Do you permit me to negotiate directly with my spouse, or are there other tasks I can handle to reduce my costs? While you are hiring your lawyer for their expertise and insight, you also do need to consider your budget. They may have certain tasks you can carry out or recommendations to help you save money.
  • Based on your current knowledge of my case, how do you think a judge would rule? This can be another thing that is difficult to predict, but your lawyer may be able to provide some insight, especially if they are familiar with the local family court judges.
  • Can you help me understand the tax impact of the decisions I will need to make? Divorce means a lot of decisions, and you should have an understanding of the long-term effects of these decisions.

At the Adams Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping you and your family make it through this difficult time. Our compassionate and experienced legal team is on your side, and our Katy divorce attorneys will fight for your best interests.

Ready to get started? Contact our firm to schedule a consultation by calling (281) 391-9237.


The Do’s & Don’ts of Summertime Child Custody

Summer is nearly upon us and school is ending soon. Your children may be excited about more free time, but summer can pose unique child custody challenges for parents. Here are the do’s and don’ts of child custody plans over summer to help you and your co-parent have a stress free summer.

Do’s of Summer Co-Parenting

  • Do make your summer parenting plan in advance. If your parenting plan doesn’t already address the summertime, it’s time to sit down with your co-parent and develop a plan for the months your child is out of school. Once approved by the court, this modification will be responsible for dictating your custody schedule during the summer months.
  • Do communicate with your co-parent. Summer trips, camps, and activities can be fun for your family, but it’s important to communicate these plans with your co-parent early. Notify them of vacation plans, summer activities, or summer-only changes that may occur before they happen. If you and your co-parent struggle to communicate, a mediator can help.
  • Do consider your kids’ feelings. Even small changes can feel like big changes when you’re young, so don’t forget to take this into account when making summer plans. Seeing one parent less, staying in a different home, or other changes can be uncomfortable and can cause an emotional reaction. Talk to your children about your plans and help them understand what will happen so they feel secure. If they’re older, they may want to help you plan or have plans of their own you may consider.

Don’ts of Summer Co-Parenting

  • Don’t take it personally if your child misses their other parent. If your summer plans are dramatically different than the rest of the year or you’re planning a trip away, it’s possible your child may take some time to adjust and miss their other parent. This is natural, so you shouldn’t feel hurt if they seem to miss the other parent more than they’re excited to see you. You can help ease their worries by planning fun activities but also planning plenty of time to talk with their other parent on the phone or on a web-calling program like Skype.
  • Don’t make legal decisions without talking to your attorney. When making changes to your normal parenting plan, it’s important to remember that custody is a legal issue. Even if you have informal arrangements with your co-parent, the formal custody orders are what will be enforced if there is an issue. Be sure to consult your lawyer before making any changes or if you foresee any issues.
  • Don’t skip your support payments. You may have physical custody of your child more during the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can skip paying child support. Unless you have a modification, you are still legally obligated to pay what has been ordered, whether your child is living with you or not for the summer. If you want to request a modification, talk to your attorney.

Planning ahead can help your family enjoy summertime without the stress, and Adams Law Firm can help! Our experienced Katy family law attorneys can assist you with your child custody and child support modifications for the summer.

Schedule a consultation to discuss your case today. Call (281) 391-9237.


Planning a Vacation When You Have Shared Custody

Summer trips can often create cherished memories with your children, but planning one can be a challenge when you share custody of your children. Don’t give up on your dreams of a camping trip with your kids just yet, though! Here are some tips to help you navigate the process of planning a vacation with shared custody.

  • Communicate. You and your co-parent need to communicate your plans for summer before summer starts. Planning a trip to the Grand Canyon in July? Talk to your co-parent s about it, and see if they will agree. If they won’t, see if there is a compromise you both can agree upon, such as moving the trip, making it shorter, or even going together. Before you book anything, take some time to talk, and use a mediator if you need to.
  • Ask your children. If you have older children, they may have their own desires for summer. Talk to them and see what they want to do, and take it into account. Even younger children may be happy to add their input to the plans, and planning a trip together can be rewarding.
  • Confirm plans in writing. Mix-ups can be frustrating, but they can also place you into legal issues if your custody plans aren’t followed. If you and your co-parent choose to use informal agreements rather than formal modifications to your custody agreements over summer, be sure to get all plans in writing as agreed upon by both of you. This can also help if your co-parent changes their mind or forgets the plans you’ve agreed upon.
  • Consult your lawyer. Remember, custody issues are legal issues. If you’re seeking to make changes to your custody plans or take your kids on a trip out of state, your attorney can make sure it’s handled correctly so you’re protected.

Ready to enjoy your summer vacation? We’re here to help. Our Katy family law attorneys are ready to help you navigate the process of custody modification or to answer your legal questions. Schedule a consultation with the Adams Law Firm today to learn more!

Contact our firm by calling (281) 391-9237.

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