Going through a divorce can be difficult enough without the fear of potentially losing your beloved horses to your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Horses are property in the eyes of Georgia law. This means they could be subject to the state’s equitable distribution laws during a divorce.

Navigating horse ownership laws in Canton is something you may have to do if you and your spouse decide on divorce.

Contested vs. uncontested divorce

Whether or not you get ownership of horses in a divorce can depend on whether you and your spouse have a contested or uncontested case. If you have a contested divorce, you and your spouse cannot agree to the proposed terms of the split, often resulting in the need for a trial. An uncontested divorce means the two of you can compromise on the terms together.

An uncontested divorce through mediation could enable you to negotiate with your spouse on who will keep the horses. You may be able to convince your spouse to give you ownership in exchange for something he or she wants, such as a jointly owned vehicle. Mediation gives you and your spouse the power to decide on horse ownership rather than handing the decision to a judge.

Equitable distribution in divorce hearings

Like most states, Georgia does not recognize community property laws. Instead, it uses an equitable distribution statute to determine property division in a divorce case. If your case goes to court, a judge will determine how to split property in a way that is fair to both parties. This may not mean a 50/50 split.

Obtaining ownership of horses during a divorce trial will require either showing that you owned the horses prior to the marriage (thus protecting them from equitable division), or proving that you are the rightful owner based on your financial status, future needs or misconduct of your spouse. A judge will listen to both sides of the case and decide who will get to keep the horses based on what he or she believes is fair and equitable.