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Question regarding legal ownership

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    Question regarding legal ownership

    Hi everyone,

    I am not familiar with a lot of the equine legalities, so I thought I would ask here for input. There is a bit of a sticky situation going on with a girl I know (she is 18). This girl is leaving for college this summer and has 4 horses. Her father was somewhat involved in past years, but remarried and the father/daughter relationship has become strained in many ways. He does not help with support of the horses, and the girl is struggling to feed them while finishing high school and getting ready to go to college. Because of this, the daughter has planned to find them homes, as she is worried that they will not be cared for when she leaves.

    She is doing all that she can in the situation she is in to feed and care for the horses. Her horses are at home, where there is next to no grass and no shelter.

    I helped find a home for one of her horses at a nice lesson facility. The place has all of the essentials (shelter, good grass/hay, farrier/vet care, etc.). She then moved the horse on a trial basis (with her father's knowledge) and was so excited that her horse would get the attention and care. All was well, but about a day later, the father showed up to the farm and said he wanted his horse back. The girl wanted the horse to stay, as it would be a better home. This became a bit of a stand-off, so the sheriff was called. Both the father and daughter spoke to the county, who discussed ownership (talks about registration papers, etc.) which have the daughter's name as the recorded owner on every document. There is no bill of sale as the daughter has had the horse since it was 2 (now 11 years old). At this point, we believed that the girl would have the legal right to make these decisions. However, it was then said that she would have to appeal to the court to 'claim her property'. As the horses are on the father's property, this is where it gets tricky.

    I just feel bad for this girl and her horses. Her dad is trying to make a statement and control something he really doesn't care about. She just wants to make sure that her animals are loved and cared for, because her father really won't do what needs to be done when she leaves.

    Any ideas or help would be very appreciated.
    Dream Again Farm

    Sounds like a horrible home situation for this young lady.

    Just because a horse is on your property does not mean you own hte horse. The girl is of legal age to engage in contracts. I suggest she gives a "Bill of Sale" for $1 for any horse she has rehomed.

    It seems to me that the ball is in her court. Give the barn a bill of sale. Daddy can sue her for selling the horse if he wants to claim it is his.
    Where Norwegian Fjords Rule


      That's a really good idea; but if possible the young lady should also consult with a lawyer.


        I agree with Ironwood. Police are really reluctant to get involved with family disputes, and usually side with keeping things as they always have been and not siding with changes which cannot be documented.
        It is essential that she give the new owners a bill of sale. Her paperwork then shows that SHE has been the legal owner, that SHE is an adult, and that SHE has legal sold the animal and that the new owner legally owns the horses - and she should transfer the papers to the new owner. If these are papers which do not show transfer of ownership, she should hand the papers over to the new owner with a notarized letter from her backing up the sale and transferring ownership. Just an official letter describing the horse, associating it wiht the papers, claiming that she is the legal owner and an adult, and describing the sale and the new owners and stating the property she is moving the horse to.

        She should not mention any of the old story, such as where the horse once lived, that her father has no claim on the horses, etc. Just the above facts of her ownership and the sale describing herself, the horse, the papers, the new owner name and addresses and the sale.

        Then if the father commes along trying to claim the horse, the new owner has papers, sale, and everything possible to show it is legal, none of which shows anything about the father's name or relationship to the horse. No court, and no police in the world will give the horse back to someone with no paper trail to the animal, when there is a paper trail to the new owner and the daughter.

        Daughter should move all horses off her father's property under the same circumstances, even if she is only giving the horses to a friend or neighbor for safe keeping. If she does this, she makes the horses safe, and its up to the father to initiate any kind of legal or court issue. In that case, you can bet everything that the judge would go in favor of the one with the paperwork, and the above description of paperwork she can create will protect her and save her ass. If she doesn't do that, she may find herself in a grey area she can't prove. she must transfer the ownership to the new owner via a bill of sale, plus a letter of support describing the transaction, plus giving the new owner the papers.

        Its too bad, but bullies are bullies and rarely do they consider that there actually isn't anything legal about what they feel they have a power right to.

        He can't claim what he dcan't prove is his.
        My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods


          Also, generally, when an unsuspecting buyer buys something that the seller didn't legally own, the rightful owner's remedy is against the seller, not the unsuspecting buyer. In other words the dad would be going after the daughter for the value of the horse, not the new owner to get the horse back. The law protects the innocent buyer.

          It's possible that the horse could be ordered returned since it's a unique item, but I kinda doubt the dad would even pursue legal action. The important thing is to protect the innocent buyer.

          Since the remedy would likely be the value of the horse, the bill of sale is very important. Here's your $1, asshole dad! He would have the burden of proving that the horse was worth something more than that.
          \"Non-violence never solved anything.\" C. Montgomery Burns


            Does the girl have any vet bills, coggins, farrier bills which all state her as the owner? Where is her mother in all of this? This sounds like a horrible situation for her - what the heck is the new wife doing? And you say the father has helped support her horses in the past but is not doing so now - but they LIVE on the father's property? Sounds like a chaotic situation and the horses are in the middle of it. The best thing would be for her and her father (and new wife -as she might be a good mediator???) and discuss the care of these animals.. If she can find a home to sell them to - maybe suggest any money from the sale would go into her college fund or something. Let's hope. I feel bad for this girl.


              Can you find a place for the girl to move her horses, temporarily (until homes are found). This will remove her father's ability to say 'they are on my land so they are mine'.


                She needs a lawyer. Nelson & Tucker should be able to advise her: (I am not affiliated with this firm in any way shape or form other than to have met them and know who they are.)
                Most people don't need a $35,000 horse. They need a $1,000 horse and $34,000 in lessons.

                "I don't have to be fair . I'm an American With a Strong, Fact-Free Opinion." (stolen off Facebook)