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Divorces among farming communities are historically more complex and treated differently by the courts.  

Whereas divorces outside the farming sector are more straightforward to establish which assets the respective spouses own, farming-related cases entail working out how ex husbands and wives and their children can be provided for – avoiding, if possible, the sale of assets.

Some farms are run as limited companies and others as a partnership – the latter frequently without a formal agreement which can cause confusion over how assets are treated on separation. Establishing the value of assets is extremely important with valuations required, for example, of machinery, crops in the ground and milk quotas.

In most cases the farm, which is also the matrimonial home, is a generational asset that has been in the family for many decades. In divorce it is usually a better course of action to preservethe ongoing business enterprise as this is the income producing asset. 

Solutions to meet a spouse’s housing and income needs may however necessitate selling plots of land, particularly if it will not affect the viability of the business. The court will also examine whether borrowing is feasible against farm assets to raise capital, again to minimise the impact on the business.

Setting in place pre-nuptial agreements – which are becoming more common in large scale farming enterprises – can go a long way to secure the future of the farm and protect and preserve its assets for future generations.

Although still not legally binding in England and Wales, in the majority of cases pre-nups are widely accepted as the sensible way for couples to avoid the potential distress, acrimony and expense associated with resolving financial matters, should their relationship end.

The agreements must be entered into freely and willingly by both parties, ensuring the outcome would not result in an unfair settlement for either of them. It is vital that both spouses enlist independent legal advice before signing them.   

Situations where such contracts run into problems include when judges think they have been signed in haste and under pressure. They will want to know that the partner with the most to lose understood the agreement, was not under duress when they signed it, and took independent legal advice. Courts may ignore or vary pre-nups drawn up in haste.

We always advise that the agreement is signed at least 21 days before the wedding, making full financial disclosure and securing good legal advice.

If respected family lawyers help draw up the agreement, judges can be confident that both parties understood it fully and were not rushed into it.

Jones Myers has extensive expertise in cases involving farming and agricultural assets in marriage and relationship breakdown. Call our Leeds office on 0113 246 0055, our Harrogate office on 01423 276104, visit www.jonesmyers.co.uk, email info@jonesmyers.co.uk or tweet us @helpwithdivorce

By Norman Taylor

When couples divorce or terminate a civil partnership, a key issue is dividing any pension rights that have been built up during – and possibly before – the relationship started.

In fact, it has become more common for pension pots to make up the second highest value asset in a divorce settlement after the family home. In some cases it is the most valuable asset. (more…)

By Norman Taylor, collaborative family lawyer

The prospect of divorce can be overwhelming, exhausting and frightening.

In our experience, most couples who’ve decided there is no going back, want to avoid a costly and stressful courtroom battle over the division of their assets and ensure the best interests of their children.

Even though their relationship as husband and wife has ended, their futures will be inextricably linked with planning and sharing their children’s development and well-being. (more…)

A case handled by Jones Myers has helped five Supreme Court judges to rule that a divorced surveyor should not have to increase payments to his former wife who mishandled her finances after they broke up.

The case of Graham and Maria Mills, who divorced in 2002 after a 15-year marriage, has put the spotlight on the ‘meal ticket for life’ scenario in which a wife receives maintenance in her life time. (more…)

As an in-house barrister at Jones Myers, what type of cases do you work on?

Some of my cases involve complex financial matters where there are trusts and offshore structures – I worked offshore in Jersey before moving to Jones Myers. Our firm also has extensive expertise in Children Law matters and I represent and assist parents with child arrangement orders and relocation cases. (more…)

The myriad of media comments, articles and speculation on whether ‘no fault’ divorces will come to fruition fail to mention how one vital element – how such a long-awaited change would impact on children.

Under current laws, unless couples have been living apart for a period of time one of them must apportion some form of blame – adultery or unreasonable behaviour – which can in itself create conflict and makes reaching a mutually acceptable agreement much more difficult. (more…)

By Polly Coram, solicitor
The fundamental basis of any will is that a person has a right to leave what they want, to who they want. If a person dies without leaving a Will, then they are ‘intestate’ and their estate is distributed under the Intestacy Rules.

However, in our experience with will and trust disputes, it is increasingly common for beneficiaries, and those left without any provision, to challenge the inheritance they have (or have not) been provided with. There are a number of ways in which they are able to do this and a brief summary is below. (more…)

By Polly Coram, solicitor

Our Contentious Trusts & Estates, team, headed by Laura Short, solely practices in this area.

The words “Contentious Trusts & Estates” can seem a daunting title at first – but our role is simple: we are here to help with all contentious issues that spiral from a death or the existence of a trust. We will guide you through the process to find the solution which best suits you and your situation. (more…)

By Peter Jones, founder of Jones Myers Family Law Solicitors

A recent divorce case, which has been widely reported and involved a substantial amount of money, has prompted family lawyers to sit up and question if the so-called ‘meal ticket for life’ regarding maintenance payments is coming to an end

The divorce case involved a wife who had received over £9 million and an additional £175.000 each year in maintenance.  However this was limited to a three year period by the Court of Appeal. (more…)

Our latest blog on The Divorce Magazine puts the spotlight on how to avoid a financial settlement being rejected. Below is the article in full.

Separating or getting a divorce [Splitting up] from a partner can be an emotional roller coaster and planning your future finances may be the last thing you feel like doing.

However, it is vitally important for the long-term wellbeing of both you and your ex that on divorcing a financial settlement is reached that is mutually satisfactory and will stand up to legal scrutiny. (more…)