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In divorce, not all animals are pets

It is not easy to divorce a spouse and move on with life. Aside from the emotional impact, splitting assets can make matters complex. After all, if you have significant assets, you may not even realize the extent of the marital property you must split between you.

Certainly, you know you must arrive at a fair and equitable way to separate your bank accounts, furniture, motor vehicles and real estate. You and your spouse may already know the value of the vintage wines in your collection, and you may have appraisals for antiques and other collectibles. What about your animals, including your dogs and horses?

Measuring the worth of your animals

You do not want to assume that your spouse will give up the lapdog you cherish or the hound who sleeps at your feet. In fact, it is all too common for a spouse to demand the partner's beloved pet in the divorce simply as an act of revenge. More states are passing laws that give pets more compassionate consideration during divorces, but Texas has not taken that step. You will want to be prepared by knowing what you are willing to compromise for your pet.

Aside from your pets, you and your spouse may own dogs or horses that you breed, show or race. The court will likely not consider these pets, and determining the value of a prized animal can be a complex process. You would be wise to obtain a professional valuation that includes the following consideration:

  • The level of training, reputation and past performances of the animal
  • The right to show or race the animal
  • The financial prizes the animal has won and has the potential to win
  • The right to breed or clone the animal and any future offspring or earnings from these actions
  • The right to any frozen semen or DNA from the animal
  • The cost of boarding, insuring, feeding and maintaining the animal

Knowing the financial worth and liability of an animal can give you some leverage if your spouse determines to fight you for a beloved pet or another favorite possession. You may find that an experienced Board-certified family law attorney can provide you with the resources you need to obtain a fair valuation. The more you know about the complete worth of your marital assets, the better your position will be when it comes to bargaining for assets you want to keep.

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