Divorce and the Family Farm
Divorcing your partner when there is a business is often difficult. However, where a farming business is involved, the matter can become much more complicated. The court system treats a farm like any other business, however, we know that it is so much more and that for many of our clients it is crucial to protect the farm and ensure its viability for future generations.
We know that farming businesses require a different approach to allow for their unique characteristics. Farming is a way of life, it is not just a job. Home and work life are usually intertwined which makes unravelling them complicated. Farms are often inherited, making them “non-matrimonial” asset which means that they will not be subject to the sharing principle that usually applies. In addition, the ownership of a farm can often be complex being made up of members of the family, farming tenancies, corporate ownerships and/or trust ownership.
Placing a value on a farm is a specialist matter and will usually require expert input. It is not unusual for clients to already have valuations, perhaps for mortgage or loan purposes. These will assist when obtaining initial advice, however it will usually be necessary to obtain a specialist full valuation as well as expert advice on the tax implications of any settlements. Thought also needs to be given not just to the divorcing couple but to others who are involved with the farm. Often it is necessary for other family members involved in the business to obtain advice on how any proposed settlement may impact upon them.
There are various things which could happen with the farm upon the breakdown of your marriage. The court will be concerned about meeting both parties’ financial needs going forward. It is uncommon for a court to order that an entire farm be sold, it is more likely that capital will be raised to meet your husband or wife’s housing needs by selling off part of the farm or borrowing against the property. However, if the farm is not a viable business, the court may order it to be sold so the capital tied up in the farm can be shared.
It is crucial to obtain good quality legal advice at an early stage before you enter into any negotiations with your husband or wife. Our aim is to assist our clients reach a fair agreement that maintains the viability of the farming business and protects the business going forward wherever possible. We can support you through mediation and help you achieve a settlement. We will only advise you to proceed with court proceedings when we feel it is really necessary.
If you are not yet married, we recommend that you consider a pre-nuptial agreement. Whilst these are viewed as rather unromantic and can be difficult to negotiate, they are extremely valuable in the event of your marriage breaking down. A court will usually place a lot of weight on a pre-nuptial agreement which was made with expert advice and full information.
We offer a free initial call with one of our representatives in order to assess whether we are able to assist you and to discuss anticipated fees for our services. Call us today on 0207 936 6329 or complete our Contact Form
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In addition to specialist solicitors our divorce team also includes a dedicated financial accounting and wealth management team. Led by a qualified chartered accountant with more than 20 years experience, our financial team can provide immediate advice at the outset of your matter in relation to the likely scale and nature of your case and advise your solicitor where they should concentrate their efforts. At an early stage they can review what documents your ex-spouse as provided, identify where important financial information is missing and help trace hidden assets. They can assist with the valuation of business interests, comment on tax issues and how assets can be best used or protected during your divorce.
We also work also regularly work alongside other professionals, Queen’s counsel, medical professionals, financial advisors, mediators, counsellors and family therapists to support you in the best way possible.
Please contact our team by phone on 0207 936 6329, Email or by completing our quick contact form (below).