Any interest either party to a divorce has in a farm or farming business comprises one of the assets that the court will consider when approaching the matter of distribution upon marital breakdown.

Complex methods of ownership, liquidity issues, tax concerns and the fact that farming families can be capital-rich but income-poor are among the complicating factors that make agricultural divorce more complex than the typical divorce case. For this reason, Wilson J branded agricultural divorces "notoriously difficult to resolve" in R v R [2004] FLR 98. The added intricacy makes an expert's attention critical in securing the most favourable outcome.

At Myerson, our team of specialist family lawyers are regularly instructed by individuals who have interests in a farm or farming business and are on hand to help demystify the process. We have put together some helpful information below to guide you.

Agricultural Divorce

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A departure from equality

Whilst for non-agricultural divorces, an equal division of assets and wealth accumulated during the marriage is often considered a fair outcome, there is often a departure from equality in farming cases due to the non-matrimonial nature of some farming assets. For example, a farm which has been gifted, inherited or in the family for generations, in the expectation that it will be handed down, is an important factor the court will consider.

Cases of equal sharing in agricultural divorces are few and far between. The reason for a departure from equality in farming cases is often justified due to the nature of farming assets, as assets in such cases are often sufficient to meet the needs or reasonable requirements of the parties without dividing a farm in half.

Many farming cases settle based on a wider family-based agreement, with the farming family agreeing to use family money to buy out one spouse to achieve a clean break. However, those cases that do not settle often end up in court due to thorny issues surrounding trusts, partnerships, companies, third-party rights and inheritance issues.

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How to protect your farm

Farmers and Landowners should consider entering a pre-nuptial agreement before marrying or a post-nuptial one if they are already married. Although nuptial agreements are not technically legally binding in England and Wales, the landmark case of Radmacher v Granatino [2010] UKSC 42 demonstrates that courts will attach considerable weight to the agreement's contents if certain criteria are satisfied.

Pre or post-nuptial agreements help the court clarify the divorcing couple's intentions concerning the division of their assets. Division of assets is particularly important, as farms are often inherited; therefore, any property or money acquired before the marriage needs to be protected.

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An Introduction To Farming Divorce

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Agricultural divorces are in a field of their own. Our specialist Family Solicitors can use their experience to help you reach an amicable settlement with your spouse. You can contact us below if you have any more questions or want more information regarding agricultural divorce.

0161 941 4000