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Pets in Divorce: Everything You Need to Know

single parent with pets

Divorce can be tough, especially when deciding who gets what, like your favorite collectibles or the family home. But what about your beloved pets? In the United States, the ASPCA estimates that over 35% of households have cats, and more than 44% have dogs as members of their families.

Well, here's the lowdown on what happens to your furry friends during a divorce, explained by a divorce lawyer.


Pets are Like Property:

So, when it comes to the law, pets are often seen as no different from your TV or your toaster. In some places, like Texas, where we follow community property rules, everything gets split 50-50 between the couple. So, your pet might end up in that "50-50" too.

The Judge Decides:

Sometimes, it's up to the judge to decide who keeps the pet. They might do it randomly or work out a deal for visitation, custody, and even alimony (yes, for the pet!). Since pets are considered property, judges try to stay emotion-free. But, hey, you can fight for your furry friend with the help of a divorce lawyer in Denver

What to Do If You're Getting Divorced:

Sadly, divorces are pretty common nowadays. While we wish all marriages could be happy, that's not always the case. If you're facing divorce, here are some steps to take:

  1. Sort Things Out: Try to figure out who gets what, even pets, before involving the lawyers. What you can't decide, lawyers and judges can help with.

  2. Talk About Kids and Pets: Discuss child or pet custody early. If you agree on this before calling a lawyer, it can make things smoother.

  3. Keep Emotions in Check: We get it; divorce is tough. But try not to let your emotions dictate your actions. Acting out of anger can make things messier.

How to Decide Who Gets the Pet:

If your pet feels like family, going to court might not be the best option. You don't want to lose control of the situation. Instead, you can make the decision together.

Consider Mediation: 

Mediation helps couples relieve stress and rationally make decisions on matters pertaining to property, custody of kids, and pets. This works well if you have more than one pet – someone can get the cat and the dog.

Think About Your Pet: 

Remember your pet's feelings. If one of you has a stronger bond with the pet, it's kinder to let them stay with that person.

Creating Your Pet Custody Plan:

You can even make your pet custody plan outside the divorce process. It's unusual, and the court won't be involved, but it's doable. You can include your pet in your custody agreement or make a legal contract for pet care.


Dealing with divorce can be tricky, especially when it comes to pets. When things get complicated, it's best to get advice from specialists who know the ins and outs of divorce. 

So, if you're in such a situation, don't hesitate to reach out to professionals who can help you and your pet navigate this challenging situation.