Agricultural Divorces: A Field of Their Own

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Jane Tenquist - Head of Family Law

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Obtaining Advice from an Agricultural Divorce Specialist

Agricultural divorces are often complex and require expert attention.

Some farms are very successful enterprises: they may comprise valuable properties and land holdings, machinery and stock.

The farm may have diversified into several areas, each business producing its own income stream.

The farm may also have developed a national or regional reputation for supplying excellent produce and meat.

Other farms may own valuable land and properties, but the business may only produce a modest profit.

Farmers sometimes rent rather than own the land, and the business may be run profitably.

In most cases, farms have been run as a family concern through the generations, with the expectation that the next generation will be responsible for taking on the farm.

Divorce affecting farmers may have a major impact on the farm and other family members' interests in the farm.

Farms may be run as a company, partnership, or sole trader. Trusts may have been established to protect the farm and its core businesses.

Prenuptial agreements may also have been entered into at the start of the marriage to protect the farm.

Farmers often have strong professional links with local RICS surveyors and agricultural consultants.

Therefore, you must instruct a Family Solicitor who specialises in Farming Divorces and appreciates the specific idiosyncrasies involved when undertaking a valuation of a farming business on divorce.

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agricultural divorce 2

How will the farm be affected by a divorce?

The farm buildings and land will need to be valued by a jointly appointed RICS surveyor.

In addition, an Agricultural Consultant may need to be appointed to value the plant, machinery and stock.

A jointly appointed forensic accountant will also need to value the business.

It helps if you have an in-depth knowledge of the farm and how it operates when appointing an expert so that you can ask them to address the specific issues which affect the farm.

These valuations cause great concern not only to the farmer but to family members with interests in the farm.

The farm may have been held in the same family for generations.

Whether the farm is deemed a marital asset will impact how assets are divided on divorce.

Each case will turn on its facts, and the outcome will depend on various factors.

Farm ownership can also be complicated by tenancies, trusts and corporate structures, which can impact whether the asset can indeed be divided in divorce.

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How will the farm be affected by a divorce

Financial Disclosure

Both parties to a divorce have a duty of full and frank financial disclosure of all financial assets, liabilities and income.

This will include valuations of the farming land, the business itself, the business accounts, bank accounts and evidence regarding any income stream.

In addition, the farm owner may be a party to a Stewardship Agreement, which provides an annual income.

Many farmers also receive annual financial entitlements as part of the Basic Payment Scheme.

These financial incentives are a valuable source of income.

Therefore, both parties need to ensure that specialist and professional experts are involved at an early stage for land valuations, valuations of entitlements, tax advice and business strategies.

Whilst it is unlikely that a farm will be sold on divorce, enquiries will be made as to how much capital or income can be made available to secure a divorce settlement for the departing spouse and any children of the family.

In some cases, wives have worked without payment within the farming business for many years, and her involvement may have become integral to the smooth running of the farm.

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Financial Disclosure

The Farm's Capital

The needs of both parties are considered in depth when negotiating a financial settlement.

Often, the farm's capital is tied up in the land and buildings, which generates the income.

Accurate and creative advice is needed, to ensure that money can be extracted to satisfy the financial needs of both parties.

For example, just part of the farm could be sold, or there could be an allowance for capital payments over time.

It is also possible for land to be transferred between husband and wife as part of the financial settlement.

If other assets to a marriage can be distributed to avoid a sale or part sale of a farm, that is also an option that will be explored.

The court's primary aim is to achieve fairness; therefore, how the farm is dealt with on divorce will depend on the particular circumstances of each case.

Agricultural divorces are in a field of their own.

Our specialist family lawyers can use their experience to help you reach an amicable solution.

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The farms capital

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If you need professional legal advice regarding an agricultural divorce, please contact Myerson Solicitor's Agriculture lawyers on:


Jane Tenquist 's profile picture

Jane Tenquist

Head of Family Law

Jane has over 30 years of experience acting as a Family solicitor. Jane has specialist expertise in negotiation and drafting pre and post nuptial agreements, complex financial work, and spousal maintenance orders.

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