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Taking ownership of a horse after a divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2022 | Family Law |

Under Texas law, livestock such as horses classifies as property. If two soon-to-be ex-spouses bought a horse, the law generally considers it community property. As reported by Texas A&M AgriLife, the court requires dividing community property in a divorce.

A judge generally presumes that a couple’s assets at the time of divorce represent marital property. If a spouse received a horse as a gift or an inheritance the law regards it as separate property that the owner may keep. When a horse belongs to only one spouse, however, the individual may need to show proof qualifying it as separate property.

Dividing separate versus community property

Assets acquired prior to marriage reflect separate property. A purchase receipt showing a date before marriage verifies an asset as separate from community property. Inheriting a horse may require showing a transfer of ownership obtained during probate.

If a horse commingled with other livestock, such as through breeding activities, the court may view it as part of a couple’s community property. The total value then divides in half under Texas law. Spouses generally negotiate their asset division, and a judge must approve a couple’s final divorce decree.

Caring for a horse may determine ownership

Horse Illustrated Magazine reports that taking ownership of a horse may depend on whether it is a racehorse or a companion animal. Spouses who provided training may have a greater chance of taking ownership. Documents related to a horse’s racing career may serve as proof. If a horse acted more like a pet and provided companionship, a spouse who cared for it and developed an emotional attachment may take ownership.

Based on a horse’s appraised value, couples may trade the animal for their other community properties. When spouses cannot agree on dividing their property, however, a judge may order them to sell certain assets and split the proceeds.