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Special concerns for farmers in divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2023 | Divorce

Many people in the Indianapolis area and the surrounding rural counties of central Indiana have made a lot of wealth through farming.

Some may be from a long line of family farmers who have managed to continue the business or even take it to the next level.

Like other high-asset divorces, a divorce involving a family farm in many ways is like any other divorce. Unless the couple can agree, a judge will divide the property in the way they see as fair and use a number of legal factors to do so.

While the starting point is 50-50, judges do not have to split the property evenly between spouses.

If the farm has been passed down on one side of the family, there one spouse may be argue that all or part of the farm was family gift or inheritance in order to seek a deviation from a 50-50 division of property.

Divorces involving a family farm can get complicated

Practically speaking, divorces involving a family farm can get complicated for a number of reasons:

  • Since it is income-producing, farmland is more difficult to value than, say, a single-family residential home.
  • Likewise, during a divorce, farm equipment, crops and other items may require an appraisal. Putting a value on a family farm will often require the assistance of a valuation professional.
  • Especially if the couple has minor children, the couple and possibly the court will need to understand how much income the farm produces and how the divorce will affect that income. This can be difficult since farm income can vary widely from year to year and is seasonal.
  • There can be non-financial issues, like a person’s attachment to the family farm for example, which will play into consideration during a divorce.
  • There could be issues related to how the couple will actually divide the property. For example, it would make little sense for a non-farming spouse to take over the business, but the other person may not be able easily to afford to buy out the non-farming spouse.

A Hoosier who is involved in family farming and facing a divorce will want to understand their legal options and possible strategies.