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The 2013 film “Penny and Red: The Life of Secretariat’s Owner” revealed a love affair between the owner of the Triple Crown winner and the horse’s trainer. The extramarital affair led to the horse owner’s eventual divorce from her husband. The film raises an interesting question: What happens to a horse after a divorce?

Kentucky law contemplates the equitable distribution of marital property. This means that you should receive your fair share of marital wealth. You may not, however, end up with a 50/50 split. Because animals are property in the Bluegrass State, you must determine who owns the horse to know who is apt to receive exclusive ownership after a divorce.

Is the horse marital or separate property? 

To understand post-divorce property ownership, you must distinguish between marital and separate property. Marital property indicates that both spouses have an ownership interest, whereas separate property denotes exclusive ownership by one spouse.

Typically, everything that is not separate property is marital property. To know whether your horse is marital property or separate property, you should think about when you acquired the animal. If you did so by yourself before the marriage started, the horse probably belongs solely to you.

If the horse is separate property, you can likely keep it after your divorce. For a jointly owned animal, though, you must divide ownership fairly. This may mean that you sell the horse and split the proceeds, buy out your partner’s interests or continue to co-own the animal.

Is the horse part of a business? 

If you have a horse you use for income, your animal may be part of a business. Like the horse itself, the business may either be separate property or marital property. If you and your partner share ownership of the company, you must come up with a plan for dividing ownership interests.

You may have a great deal of attachment to your horse. Furthermore, you may have a significant amount of time, money and effort invested in the animal. By understanding how Kentucky law treats horses for divorce purposes, you can better plan for addressing the animal’s ownership.