If you and your spouse own a dog, you probably think of the animal as a member of your family. In the eyes of the law, though, your pooch is a piece of property. Like other types of assets, you must deal with your dog during your divorce. 

Texas is a community property state. This means each spouse has an equal ownership interest in all marital property. Thus, at the time of your divorce, you should receive roughly half of what you and your partner jointly own. 

Is the dog marital or separate property?  

When Texans divorce, judges typically divide marital property equally. Separate property, by contrast, usually goes to the spouse who owns it. Therefore, if you want to keep your dog, it may be helpful to investigate whether the animal classifies as separate property. If you acquired your pet before you walked down the aisle, it may not be part of the marital estate. The same is true if you exclusively inherited the animal or received it as a gift. 

Can you reach an acceptable agreement?  

While a judge must enter a final divorce decree, you likely do not have to let a judge decide what happens to your marital property. On the contrary, if you can reach an acceptable agreement with your spouse, a judge is apt to defer to it. Accordingly, you may want to devote some time to negotiating your pet’s future with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. 

Is there something of similar value you can exchange?  

Whether through a court proceeding or negotiation, keeping a pet that is part of the marital estate may require giving up something of similar value. Consequently, attempting to determine your dog’s value may be helpful. Also, you may want to think about what your partner may accept in exchange for the animal. 

After you determine whether your pet is marital or separate property, you can put together your strategy for either keeping or parting with the animal.