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  • Farming and Divorce

    Farming and Divorce

    With the sun finally making an appearance, the harvest season is now in full swing. Even though this is a vital time of year for our local farmers and businesses, it can also bring vast amounts of pressure which could result in a breakdown of marriage.

    There is no particular difference between how a farm is dealt with on divorce compared to other businesses. However, farms can be more difficult to deal with for a number of reasons:

    • The value of the land and property can be very substantial when compared to the income received.
    • Farms are often inherited, making them non-matrimonial assets that will not be subject to the sharing principle (i.e. will not usually be divided equally). Therefore, finding capital to purchase another property could prove difficult.
    • The farm itself is a lifestyle in that the farmers and their families will often work and live on the premises.
    • There is often wider ownership amongst other family members (brothers, sisters, parents), so extracting capital can be difficult.

    Usually, the starting point for a settlement in divorce, particularly with a long marriage, is an equal division of assets. However, when it comes to dealing with a family farm and farmland, this will not always be the case especially if one party has inherited the farm. It is therefore important to set up measures to protect all assets right from the beginning of a new relationship.

    Prenuptial Agreement

    A prenuptial agreement can provide clarity to both parties by setting out an agreement on how the assets will be divided should the marriage come to an end.

    Put simply, a prenuptial agreement is a contract detailing the assets, obligations and future wishes of the parties. For farmers, these assets will include the farm and the various machinery contained within the farm. A prenuptial agreement is therefore a practical approach to protecting the farm and the livelihood of the family.

    Prenuptial agreements are not legally enforceable in this country, but the Courts are taking more notice of them. So, in order for a prenuptial agreement to carry weight in Court, it must be entered into freely and the outcome cannot result in an unfair settlement for either spouse. To be able to achieve this, it is recommended that both parties seek their own independent legal advice. Here at Julie McDonald Family Law, we would be more than happy to assist with the creation of a prenuptial agreement. Should the marriage sadly come to an end, we would also be on hand to deal with the divorce process as well as dealing with the complicated matrimonial finances.


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