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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb. 16, 2003
    Location
    Nokesville, VA, USA
    Posts
    1,649

    Default Need some advice...legal

    My stepdad and I got into an altercation on Tuesday evening. He assaulted my mom and I. He has always been verbally abusive, always toward my mom, very little toward me. This was the first time he was ever physical in any way.

    Long and short of it, the police were called, he was taken away. But then what blows my mind is that he got a cab from the police department, and was BACK at the house BEFORE the officer was there to serve the protection orders to my mom. The officer at the scene said that we would both recieve protection orders, I never have recieved any, and I have left 2 messages with the arresting officer. Hoping to recieve a call today.

    During the altercation he was screaming at me to get the f* out of his house and to never come back. The next day, a friend of mine helped me go through my things and grab what I really wanted or needed. The rest of the stuff can go if he follows through on his plans to take it to the dump.

    Fast forward to this morning, my mom and I have had no contact with him. He was arraigned this morning, we were unaware of the date, there was no hearing date on her papers. Then he called her and acted like it all had never happened. Except for the part where he said he had made arrangements with the farm next door to us to take the horses until he could sell them.

    We have 2 horses. Zeus and Moxie (coming 4 yr WB pony filly). Unfortunetly bill of sales would most likely place both of them as being owned by my stepdad. As far as other documents, Zeus's insurance has us both listed as owner, his coggins and all his medical records list myself solely as the owner. Moxie he could take, I would really like to try and see him sell her. He knows NOTHING about horses.

    I have been paying board on Zeus, only for the last couple of months, prior to that it was with his help. I pay all the vet bills on my own for both horses. We just got the 3yr old registered with USEF and he had me put myself as the owner so that he wouldn't have to pay a nonmember fee or pay for himself to be a member. The barn owner said she would sit on Zeus all day before she would let anyone take him.

    I just don't know where I stand in all of this. I am not sure if he could produce the bills of sale quickly. We moved about a year ago, but most of his paper work is still packed away in boxes. Does anyone have any thoughts? I am about to go sleep outside Zeus's stall. I don't know what my rights are in this.
    Common sense is the least common thing in the world.


    Pictures: http://community.webshots.com/album/62832282gErEqu



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 17, 2002
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    996

    Default

    Are you a minor?

    If he truly does own the horses - let him sell them. But send in a friend or show buddy to buy your horse for you. If you have been paying board and related expenses, he won't know the difference.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 16, 2003
    Location
    Nokesville, VA, USA
    Posts
    1,649

    Default

    No, I am 22. I am not sure if he will just off load the horses. Part of me thinks he is too much of a jerk to do that. He knows that they are worth money, I think he is going to try and get atleast their partial value.
    Common sense is the least common thing in the world.


    Pictures: http://community.webshots.com/album/62832282gErEqu



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun. 6, 2000
    Location
    Amherst, MA
    Posts
    5,860

    Default

    But there is the question of money--the OP may not be able to front the money to buy the horses and may not want to if she feels that she already owns the horses anyway.

    Honestly, you need to talk to a lawyer. I assume your mother has a lawyer representing her, yes? If so, talk to that lawyer. If not, or if you feel that her lawyer is not sympathetic to your issues, you need to talk to one on your own. (Although if you're a minor, I'm not sure you can be represented separately.)

    At least after a discussion with a lawyer, you'll know what is and isn't possible.

    Also, I would try to ramp down the situation with your step-dad. It may be that his posturing about the horse was more or less empty talk, but if you get into an altercation with him he may follow through. I understand that this is not just about the horses, that he attacked your mother and that you are quite reasonably afraid of what he might do in the future. But try to minimize your contact with him, even by phone or email, and don't respond to any verbal attempts he might make to incite something.

    Do keep a record of all contacts with him, however. Particularly if he threatens you, your mother or your property. These contacts could be crucial in helping to decide what happens when and if there's a trial, for the divorce, and for determining who owns what.

    If you (or your mother) can't afford a lawyer, see if there's a legal clinic in town closeby, or if there's a university with a law school close by, they usually have some kind of a low-cost clinic as well.

    Good luck.I'm not a lawyer but the above is more or less common sense advice.
    "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky



  5. #5
    Join Date
    May. 31, 2007
    Location
    Aiken, SC
    Posts
    4,696

    Default

    I can recommend a good Va equine lawyer. You cannot fight him physically for the horses. Staying outside the stall may get you killed. This is too complicated to do without legal help.

    Lawyers are expensive. Do you have the funds to afford a lawyer? Does your Mom?



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar. 21, 2006
    Posts
    1,090

    Default

    I have to strongly second the least amount of contact required with your step dad, he has escalated from verbal to physical abuse and most women are in the most danger right after they leave an abusive relationship and when restraint orders are filed. On the horse stuff, I have no idea.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    May. 15, 2006
    Location
    Eastern WV Panhandle
    Posts
    1,246

    Default

    most women are in the most danger right after they leave an abusive relationship and when restraint orders are filed.
    Quoted
    For
    Truth

    For your mom's safety and yours, I sincerely hope that your mother never lets your stepdad back into the house, and that she has also contacted a divorce attorney by now. Are you still living there, or have you found a safe place to crash?



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 3, 2000
    Location
    Nokesville, VA
    Posts
    36,196

    Default

    Can't help with the legal issues.

    But if you and/or Zeus need a place to crash, let me know.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 21, 2006
    Location
    South Carolina
    Posts
    5,474

    Default

    If your stepdad is selling stuff off, your mom needs to find a family lawyer PDQ and find out what Va law says about marital property. In my state, if either party acquires it during the marriage, it belongs to both until a judge says differently (with very few exceptions).

    Your mom and a lawyer may be able to stop him selling the horses. She needs to act quickly.
    I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb. 6, 2004
    Location
    VT
    Posts
    269

    Default

    Who actually paid for the horse? Was your stepfather married to your mother at that time? If the horse was purchased while they were married the horse is considered to be marital property UNLESS your stepfather used money from an inheritance or some other provable non-marital money (like from selling something he acquired before they were married).

    In Virginia:

    "Spouses who hide, transfer or destroy property to keep the other spouse from getting it in the divorce can be punished for this "dissipation" or "waste.""

    So, he legally will be punished for selling the horse if it is marital property. If the horse is at a boarding facility (i.e. not on his property), you (and your mother) can legally access it all you want until the marital property is decided. Inform the barn owner in writing (signed also by your mother) that the horse cannot be sold or leave the property without your permission. Continue to pay all the bills and keep very good records of what you have paid for the upkeep of the horse. If you can prove that you (not your mother) have primarily paid for the upkeep, it may help show that the horse is not marital property. If the horse is considered marital property you may have to pay your stepfather for half of its value.

    Good luck!



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov. 1, 2005
    Location
    The Prairie
    Posts
    5,682

    Default

    If he paid for the horses ( I assume that is why his name is on the bill of sale) while he and your mother were married or common law they are considered marital property and he cannot legally sell them on his own.

    The fact that you paid board, are listed as USEF owner, owner for insurance probably won't affect the fact that he and your mother jointly owned the horses, but that will depend on the law in your area.

    Assuming your mother plans to end the marriage she needs get a family law lawyer asap and notify the lawyer about her husband's plan to sell jointly owned marital property.

    If I were her I would have the lawyer send a letter to the barn owner stating that she is not consenting to the sale of the horses. Sounds like the barn owner is supportive but I would still do it, even if for the sake of the barn owner.

    Good luck and please take steps to keep yourself and your mother safe. Also, please make sure that any provisions of the protection order like "no contact or communication" are enforced. If he breaches the order in any way please call the police every single time it happens. Each breach can be a separate charge and if he continues to breach the order he won't be released. Well, at least he shouldn't be.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug. 9, 2007
    Posts
    10,085

    Default

    Move the horses to a secure place, some nice poster here has offered help.

    Your mother's divorce lawyer will help her, hopefully, divide up the property, including the horses.

    The divorce lawyer needs to go now, to the courthouse, and get a restraining order preventing your stepdad from selling or taking anything, the lawyer can do this now..................

    and anything that was yours or your mom's before the marriage might be safe, I went to college in VA but don't know much VA law, EquineLaw went to law school there, so she'll know divoce law from school.

    Get a lawyer now for the divorce and for the criminal prosecution and for protection of all the property.

    When my friend Wendi separated from her husband, before I met her, he took farm machinery and equipment off of HER farm, that she had owned before their marriage, and sold it. Then he killed her new boyfriend. And fought her for custody of their 2 kids. And killed one of her Quarterhorses.

    Problem solved when I met her and put him in jail for "life" (14 yrs here in GA).

    GEt a lawyer now. The domestic relations laws don't protect people from spousal abuse or stalkers, and the only relief people usually get is AFTER someone gets killed.

    Move the horses now to a safe place.

    Hire the divorce lawyer now.

    Don't become a statistic of domestic violence.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    May. 31, 2007
    Location
    Aiken, SC
    Posts
    4,696

    Default

    There is no transmutation of premarital property into marital property in VA now. That is the extent of my VA family law knowledge

    Get away and stay away and if you need to take the horses away do that too. Your Mom needs to act and at 22, you need to be independent of her choices.

    If she wont protect herself then you need to worry about you and the horses, but do not expect the police to show up at your barn and protect you. Be proactive and be gone.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    56,015

    Default

    If ownership of the horses is in question until a divorce, if one is being sought, has been settled, would the OP be doing wrong to move the horses, as much as the stepfather or mother?

    Would she then be the one then being charged with hiding property in dispute?

    I think you need a family lawyer looking into this situation before you make any move.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    May. 31, 2007
    Location
    Aiken, SC
    Posts
    4,696

    Default

    Not to be misunderstood as I see how it could be read that way, I am not suggesting she hide her horses from her stepfather so he wont sell them, I am suggesting she hide herself for her own safety and if she will not put her life before her horses safety then take them too.

    Let the courts figure it out, but many of us would put our lives in danger for our animals. If that's the case then I'd rather explain that to a judge then sleep on front of the stall trying to fight off an abusive person.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2007
    Posts
    14,703

    Default

    In domestic case around here a restraining order forbidding contact with the victim(s) is a condition of the bond. If there are minor children involved there may be some contact permitted, but otherwise any attempt by the accused to contact the victim(s) would be a violation of the terms and conditions of the bond and could be cause for revocation (meaning the accused goes back to jail to await further court appearances).

    A separate, civil Order of Protection may also be had independantly or as part of the divorce proceedings. Violation of an ex-parte Order is a civil matter; violation of an Order after a hearing is a criminal offense (separate from the original charge of domestic assault/violence).

    Property division is a matter for the civil courts. Just what belongs to whom will be decided by the judge. Frankly these divisions are often pretty "Western" and possetion is often "nine points of the law." If the horses are boarded out ensure that the custodian is advised, in writing, that litigation is in progress and they are not to release the horses to anyone without proper authority.

    The OP stated that she was assaulted and that makes her a victim in the case. This may or may not be a separate charge, depending upon how the law is written in VA. She should contact the police and/or DA to ensure that they know that she is a separate and additional victim. This will give her a right to notice as the matter progresses.

    One of the most discouraging things about these cases from the DA's point of view is the number of times the victim (almost universally female) in a domestic case shows up in court wanting to drop the charges as they've "kissed and made up" with the assailant (almost universally male). In my experience this happens in something close to 3/4 of the cases I personally am involved in. Having a second, non-spousal victim can help keep the case alive (and often pressure the spouse/girlfriend from returning to the abusive relationship).

    In some instances domestic cases are truly "one time events" and do not repeat. IMO they are the minority.

    I wish the OP well. She does need to contact an attorney to represent her civil interests. She should also contact the DA/police and ensure that she is listed as a victim.

    G.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul. 29, 2004
    Location
    Desert Southwest (finally)
    Posts
    5,003

    Default

    And you don't want my opinion on the value of a Restraining Order... they sound good but the person being "protected" must remain vigilant and aware at all times. By the time LE shows up to enforce the RO, the victim could be severely injured or worse.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug. 23, 2006
    Posts
    1,410

    Default

    OP is boarding horses correct? Wouldn't a restraining or a protective order also be inclusive of the boarding facility? We had a gal at my barn who had a wacked out relationship w/her boyfriend - needless to say he filed an order of protection against her - which also forbade her to attend certain horse shows if he was also competing there. One would think the OP's stable would be included so thug stepdad should not be permitted to be around stable. In today's market he is not going to be able to sell these horses anytime soon - and something tells me he does not have the patience to advertise and meet & greet perspective buyers, wait for PPE etc. I would be worried about taking them to a sale for quick sale... but does stepfather thug have truck & trailer or access to in which to haul horses to sale?

    Also - who's house is this - did you and your mother move in w/him or did he move in w/ you.. he can't just toss out your belongings.

    At any rate, depending on your boarding situation - do you board - you said you paid board and expenses - if you do board, certainly fellow boarders and barn owners/managers to not need to be dragged into some domestic situation, therefore, it might be best if you could find another place to keep your horses until things calmed down some- for you, your horses, and the facility where you keep them.

    best of luck to you.

    PS - if you and/ your mom are lacking funds, I believe there might be agencies to help in your situation i.e. inexpensive legal advice.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr. 7, 2004
    Location
    NoVa
    Posts
    5,586

    Default

    Zeus--just wanted to say I'm really sorry about what you're going through!
    Stay safe and keep us posted that you and the Zeuster are ok!
    Amwrider: May the fleas of a thousand camels infest their genitalia and may their arms be too short to scratch.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun. 20, 2008
    Location
    Zone II, NJ
    Posts
    240

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by S4zeus View Post
    My stepdad and I got into an altercation on Tuesday evening. He assaulted my mom and I. He has always been verbally abusive, always toward my mom, very little toward me. This was the first time he was ever physical in any way.

    Long and short of it, the police were called, he was taken away. But then what blows my mind is that he got a cab from the police department, and was BACK at the house BEFORE the officer was there to serve the protection orders to my mom. The officer at the scene said that we would both recieve protection orders, I never have recieved any, and I have left 2 messages with the arresting officer. Hoping to recieve a call today.

    During the altercation he was screaming at me to get the f* out of his house and to never come back. The next day, a friend of mine helped me go through my things and grab what I really wanted or needed. The rest of the stuff can go if he follows through on his plans to take it to the dump.

    Fast forward to this morning, my mom and I have had no contact with him. He was arraigned this morning, we were unaware of the date, there was no hearing date on her papers. Then he called her and acted like it all had never happened. Except for the part where he said he had made arrangements with the farm next door to us to take the horses until he could sell them.

    We have 2 horses. Zeus and Moxie (coming 4 yr WB pony filly). Unfortunetly bill of sales would most likely place both of them as being owned by my stepdad. As far as other documents, Zeus's insurance has us both listed as owner, his coggins and all his medical records list myself solely as the owner. Moxie he could take, I would really like to try and see him sell her. He knows NOTHING about horses.

    I have been paying board on Zeus, only for the last couple of months, prior to that it was with his help. I pay all the vet bills on my own for both horses. We just got the 3yr old registered with USEF and he had me put myself as the owner so that he wouldn't have to pay a nonmember fee or pay for himself to be a member. The barn owner said she would sit on Zeus all day before she would let anyone take him.

    I just don't know where I stand in all of this. I am not sure if he could produce the bills of sale quickly. We moved about a year ago, but most of his paper work is still packed away in boxes. Does anyone have any thoughts? I am about to go sleep outside Zeus's stall. I don't know what my rights are in this.
    Okay, something like this happened to me with an ex of mine. You need to go to your county court and get a restraining order. The cops can file the complaint but they cannot approve the order a judge has to do that. Do this ASAP. They will give you a temp one until the real court date. Call the police any time he tries to contact you.


    I don't really know what to do about the horses though
    But its no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then

    -alice in wonderland



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