Divorce can be an extremely complicated process at the best of times, but a divorce that involves a family farm can be significantly more complicated than most. This is predominantly down to the fact that the farming community do not view it as a business, but as a way of life. As a result of this, farming divorces can be a challenge, one that requires a rather different approach to a traditional divorce.
So, what should you expect from a farming divorce? And what can you do to ensure the process is as simple as possible? We take a look below.
Why are farming divorces different?
Considerations for business and property assets in a typical divorce are much simpler than the complexity faced by couples that must consider farming assets. This is, in large part, down to the fact that ownership of said property and assets will often not be straightforward; instead, these may have been passed down through the generations and include other family members in their ownership. This means that one party may seek to argue that the farming assets should not be considered ‘matrimonial property’.
Farms can also have a complex ownership structure, including tenancies, trusts or corporate ownership. And with more and more farms running other businesses on-site as additional income, this can also pose complications when weighing up assets during a divorce and trying to separate the assets to provide both parties with a ‘fair’ division
Protecting your farming assets
Sadly, farming divorces can, in worst case scenarios, lead to the closure of the business and sale of assets in order to meet a spouse’s financial requirements.
Pre-nuptial agreements can be a way to try to avoid this scenario, and we have supported many clients in putting these in place prior to a marriage. This allows a couple to agree how their finances will be divided should they divorce in the future, and it can ultimately seek to protect the agricultural business in question. To ensure that a pre-nuptial agreement is given appropriate weight by the court as one of the factors the court consider when determining the overall division, specialist legal advice should be sought.
Due to the complex nature of farming divorces, a specialist solicitor with extensive experience in the area of farming divorce is a crucial component, to ensure that the unique issues at play are understood and taken into consideration. Whilst it is important that both parties are able to exit the marriage in the most amicable and financially secure position, typically, it is also vital to balance the need to maintain a viable farming business beyond the parties’ divorce.
If you are looking for support with a farming divorce and would like to speak to the experts, please don’t hesitate to contact the Poole Alcock team today.