Family Law

Divorce and The Farm

Despite wide misconception on the contrary, a farm would be taken into consideration for the purpose of divorce and not just disregarded, even if the farm has been inherited by one of the spouses from his family.

Generally speaking, farms are not dealt with any differently than any other business on divorce. However, farming cases can be particularly complex. For starters, many of the assets and the resources enjoyed by the parties now getting divorced may not have been owned by them in the first place.

Some of the distinguishing features of a ‘farming divorce’ are long marriages, absence of liquidity and parties who are capital rich and income poor. Also, in most cases a farm is not just a business, but a way of life for both parties.

One of the main difficulties when trying to assess the value of the matrimonial assets is the informal arrangements that more often than not affect some or all of the different businesses that may operate at the farm. It is common for several members of the same family to live at the farm, work at the farm and run the different businesses as if they were their own, even when on paper that is not the case. As such, in many cases one of the hurdles will be to identify which of the assets or businesses may be susceptible to distribution

Some of the questions that will need to be explored are – is there development potential at the farm? Perhaps there is planning permission already? Could some of the land or the assets be sold whilst leaving the farming business largely intact to raise funds?

As in most divorce cases, it is important to get experts in as soon as possible to value any land and other assets. Not only that, other experts, such as an accountant and an agricultural consultant will be of assistance when looking into ways to raise capital and maximise income.

In farming cases it is particularly important to count with legal professionals who can help you come up with a creative solution to maintain the farm viable after divorce, whilst meeting the needs of both parties.

Alma Nicol
Partner and Solicitor
December 2018.

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