Divorcing when a farming business is involved can be exceptionally challenging due to the unique characteristics of these ventures.
At Monan Gozzett LLP, we understand the significance of farming businesses, which often represent more than just a livelihood.
Our dedicated team recognises the complexity of farming-related divorces and aims to protect the farm's viability for future generations.
In this article, we'll delve into the specific considerations and expert advice needed for those in the farming business considering or going through a divorce.
Understanding the Unique Challenges of Farming Business and Divorce
When it comes to divorce and separation, 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" assets, meaning 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 family members, farming tenancies, corporate ownerships and/or trust ownership.
Valuing the Farm: A Specialist Matter
Placing a value on a farm is a specialist matter and requires 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, getting a specialist full valuation and expert advice on the tax implications of any settlements will usually be necessary.
Thought also needs to be given not just to the divorcing couple but to others who are involved with the farm.
Often other family members involved in the business must obtain advice on how any proposed settlement may impact them.
Possible Outcomes for the Farm in Divorce
Various things 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.
Early Legal Advice: Protecting the Farm's Viability
It is crucial to obtain good quality legal advice at an early stage before you enter into any negotiations with your husband or wife.
We aim to assist our clients in reaching 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 necessary.
Pre-Nuptial Agreements for Farming Couples
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 challenging to negotiate, they are extremely valuable in the event of your marriage breaking down.
A court usually places much weight on a pre-nuptial agreement made with expert advice and full information.
Farming Business And Divorce: Comprehensive Support
In addition to specialist solicitors, our divorce team includes a dedicated financial accounting and wealth management team.
Led by a qualified chartered accountant with more than 20 years of 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 on where they should concentrate their efforts.
At an early stage, they can review what documents your ex-spouse has provided, identify where vital 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 regularly with other professionals, King's Counsel, medical professionals, financial advisors, mediators, counsellors and family therapists to support you best.
Divorcing while owning a farming business demands specialised knowledge and a tailored approach.
At Monan Gozzett, our team understands the intricacies of farming-related divorces and strives to protect the long-term viability of your business.
If you're navigating divorce in the farming industry, contact us today at 0207 936 6329 or complete our contact form for an initial consultation.
Our expert Family Law team is here to support you through this challenging time and help you secure a fair and equitable settlement while safeguarding your farming business for the future.