It is a well-known fact among pet owners that furry and feathered friends are often considered part of the family. That may be part of the reason why so-called pet custody suits are becoming more and more common in Texas divorce scenarios. While the courts still view pets as property in the same way they would consider a couch or automobile, some legal professionals are opening the door to a broader interpretation of how animals should be treated -- not simply as an asset to be divided.
It is believed that an increase in pet ownership may have something to do with the growing number of pet custody settlements being requested. It is estimated that over 60 percent of American households now have at least one pet, and that Americans are spending in excess of $55 billion per year on their animal companions. Coupled with growing divorce rates, it is understandable why separating couples may come to loggerheads over custody of their household pet.
In fact, the tendency in certain cases has become to treat pet custody as similar to child custody issues. Visitation rights and joint custody is often awarded in a non-court setting by an arbitrator when those rights are in question. With more and more people viewing their pets as much more than simple property, it may only be a matter of time before the court system begins to reflect this belief as well.
Texas divorce is a complicated process, and the addition of a custody battle over a beloved dog or cat can make it even more so. Residents faced with such a battle may benefit from seeking outside arbitration to help come to an agreement about what is to be done with the family pet. This route could prove most beneficial for all members of the family, no matter how many legs they might have.
Source: Newsweek, Divorce, Doggy Style, Katya Cengel, Nov. 23, 2013