Our leading family solicitors have extensive experience of farming divorces and advising individuals with respect to prenuptial and postnuptial agreements where a farming business and other related assets are involved. These matters are often very complex, and so having the correct strategy, with lawyers who understand the nature of your situation, is absolutely critical. Our farming divorce team are highly attuned to the issues encountered in farming divorces, especially with respect to liquidity of assets, implications of sale, market volatility, family ownership and valuation. They also work in close partnership with a network of relevant contacts, including experts, banks, family offices, tax advisors and wealth managers, as well as our in-house, financial forensics team and property department, ensuring that you get the very best outcome in your divorce or agreement.
We understand that farming, for many, is not just a job but a livelihood. Farms are highly significant assets: they tend to form both a home and a business and are often designed to be passed down the generations. Ownership is therefore likely to bring its own complexities, and may well be shared via a company, partnership or trust. The farming business may also be the sole source of income for a couple. One of the most famous farming divorces to reach the family courts, White v White, exemplified these complexities. Assisting on cases involving a farming business therefore necessitates expert strategic solutions, tailored directly to the case at hand.
At Vardags, our top family solicitors are specialists in representing clients on both sides of a farming divorce, whether you are a farm owner yourself, or the spouse of one. In most cases, preservation of the farming business/assets is an important aim. This can present difficulties for the non-farming spouse’s entitlement. In instances such as these, our family solicitors at experts in seeking alternative methods of raising capital to provide for a fair settlement.
Form our offices in London, Cambridge and Manchester, we have extensive coverage of England and Wales, serving clients in all of the major farming counties in the UK, including Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Devon, Norfolk, Shropshire, Kent, Somerset, Hampshire, Worcestershire, and beyond.
Divorce among farm-owning households can be subject to additional complexities arising from the nature of the assets within the marital pot. The typically illiquid assets held by farm-owning families means that assets are not easily releasable nor dividable. Large bodies of land would often lose significant value if they were to be literally divided in two upon settlement. Therefore, often the most sensible solution is to either sell the farm and divide the returns, or for one party to pay the other out based on an agreed valuation.
However, parties may not wish to relinquish their stakes in the farm, nor to see the land sold, for a number of reasons. Perhaps the farm is a generational asset handed down - the emotional significance of the land would be difficult to part with.
The land may also struggle to sell for its true value necessitating both parties to wait out in a limbo until a sensible offer is reached with prospective buyers.
Farming subsidies can also result in additional complications during the process of divorce. Subsidies can provide a significant source of income for farm-owning households and therefore heavily impact the valuation of the assets. Subsidies could also be a strong incentive for both parties to retain their stake within the farm, so as to continue receiving these periodic payments.
It is always possible to overcome these complications, however. One potential solution is to create a limited liability company to manage the farm which allows both parties to retain their stakes without having to sell or relinquish their share within the asset. The shares within the LLC would be deemed personal property and therefore not subject to division during the divorce.
Above all else, the most important step during a divorce is to ensure you have top-tier legal representation throughout the convoluted process. This is imperative for you and your family’s financial security, to ensure generational assets remain within your possession, and to achieve any other essential outcomes you require from your specific case and unique circumstances.