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Horses and divorce: are they pets or assets?

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2021 | Divorce, Property Division

Divorce can be stressful for you and the animals who are part of your life and livelihood. As you and your spouse start out, you have no intention of ending the relationship. When it comes time to divide a combined life, the situation can become challenging.

Horses may feel like family. During the divorce, however, they are assets and can become a source of friction.

Here’s what you should know about how Texas views horses during a divorce.

Community property

Texas is a community property state when it comes to dividing assets during a divorce. Although your horses may feel more like companions than assets, considering them assets makes a simple line for the court to determine ownership.  If the horses are registered, ownership on the registration papers does not determine whether they are community or separate property. That is determined by how they were acquired.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on who gets the horses, and the horses are determined to be community property, the Court will award them to one party or the other or order them sold and the proceeds split as with the rest of your community property.  If their value is at issue, a professional may have to be retained to testify as to their appraised value.

Additional circumstances

Depending on their breeding, performance and training, horses can climb in their value very quickly over the course of ownership. Likewise, horses are expensive to maintain and you may have accumulated substantial debt as a result of their care to trainers, vets, etc. As you determine who will get to keep the horses, you may need to consider who else may have an interest in the horses because of these debts. The debt will also need to be awarded in your divorce.

If you are part of a breeding or training operation, division during a divorce may be more like dividing a business rather than an award of animals because of all that is involved.

Whether you are the “horse person” in the relationship or not, it is essential to understand that if you and your spouse are unable to agree on what happens to the horses, the Court will have to make that decision for you, and the Court will have to view them as assets, not loved ones.