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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

The latest milestone for our specialist family law firm sees the launch of an office in York and a trio of appointments which include a partner with 25 years’ experience in family law.

Consistently retaining top tier regional rankings in Chambers and Legal 500 our firm, which also has offices in Leeds and Harrogate, has been acknowledged as an outstanding niche family law practice for over two decades. (more…)

Jones Myers partner and in-house barrister, Andrew Fox, was invited to take part in Family Law’s ‘A Day in the Life of’, feature which we’ve recreated in full below.

A collaboratively trained lawyer, Andrew has an impressive record dealing with complex children cases and in dealing with matrimonial finance matters where there are extensive assets.

Skilled in dealing with business valuations, Andrew’s knowledge of trust related matters and off shore structures is extensive having practised in Jersey for some years. Here’s a flavour of his background and role.

1 What is your position and what do you do on a day-to-day basis?

As in house Barrister at niche Family Law firm Jones Myers, I deal with all aspects of family law. This ranges from matrimonial finance cases involving complex trust structures to child relocation cases.

2 How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?

I’ve been a Barrister for almost three decades. I initially set out to be a Doctor and studied science ‘A’ levels but mathematics was not my forte. I immediately swapped to arts ‘A’ level subjects and had to consider another career. Law seemed an obvious choice and my mother said it would suit me because I was both dramatic and argumentative! After studying at the University of Buckingham and the Inns of Court School of Law, the rest, as they say, is history!

3 Any memorable stories from your career so far?

Yes, which include arguing about ownership of a family dog, to who should have the cooker. Needless to say the court gave the parties short shrift in both cases!

4 What is the best and worst part of the day for you?

Walking to work on the beach when I was based in Jersey was an uplifting start to the day. My worst bugbear is the daily commute on packed and stuffy trains.

5 What keeps you motivated?

Developing a strategy with a client and implementing it to achieve a good outcome for them along with the cut and thrust of advocacy in the courtroom.

6 Tea or coffee?

Double espresso – I kick start the day with caffeine, and am still consuming it late into the night.

7 What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?

Don’t feel under pressure to take a law degree first as there are so many fascinating subjects that will also equip you with the skills to become a lawyer.

Law is truly a vocation which requires pouring your heart and soul into it along with being empathetic and an attentive listener. Being there for your clients is also a prerequisite. I once stopped halfway down a ski slope in Canada to take a client’s call because I knew how important it was to them.

8 What song do you listen to the most?

Turning Japanese by the Vapors, it’s upbeat and energetic – and now I’ve given my age away!

9 Who inspires you within the world of family law?

This is a difficult question to answer as there are quite a few. My initial decision to become a Barrister was inspired by the late Richard du Cann QC. At University a lecturer recommended that I read his book: ‘The Art of the Advocate.’ Having read it my mind was made up. My subsequent decision to go into family law was down to the kind and sage advice of a Barrister in the nascent stages of my career who now sits as a Designated Family Judge.

10 How do you enjoy your time outside of work?

I enjoy watching my daughter play netball on Saturdays in a local club and in her school team. I also find going out for meals with family or friends, without a mobile phone, to be one of the most enjoyable ways to switch off.

11 What book would you recommend to others?

Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Brideshead Revisited’ – it’s a tremendous story and well written. I must have read it a few dozen times and a copy always accompanies me on holiday.

12 What would be your alternate career?

Despite being one of the most dangerous professions in the world, I’d be a tree surgeon. There’s something magical about trees and forests and working in the great outdoors.

13 If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?

I’d overturn the decision to scrap Legal Aid for a wide range of family matters. Its damaging effect was to abandon thousands of parents and children, often the most vulnerable, in a legal wilderness. Deprived of the means to pay for specialist legal advice, it has resulted in a substantial and sustained increase in litigants in person which are straining our already overstretched family court system.

Contact us on family law matters – 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 Peter Jones, founder

The debate over whether pre-nups in England & Wales hold their weight in court has resurfaced following the case of the bankrupt hotel porter who was awarded a £1.3 million divorce payout from his wealthy wife.

A judge ruled that a pre-nup agreement signed by Anil Ipekci two weeks before marrying Morgan McConnell, the great-granddaughter of Avon cosmetics founder David McConnell, was unfair and would leave him penniless.

As a result Mr Ipekci – a bankrupt when he met his ex wife – has received the £1.3 million windfall to buy a house and pay off his credit card, bank debts and unpaid legal fees. (more…)

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…)

Our niche family law firm has launched free family law clinics for our colleagues at our Windsor House office in Harrogate.

The clinics started on April 4 and take place each Wednesday from 12 noon until 2.00 pm. They are headed by Rachel Baul, a highly experienced family lawyer with over two decades of expertise. (more…)

This week Yorkshire Post’s ‘Legal Matters’ Q & A features our solicitor Rachel Baul who seeks proper protection for separating couples – and gives some tips for those embarking on a legal career. Here’s the profile in full.         

What’s the biggest development you’ve seen in the legal world during your career?

In the 22 years since I qualified, it has been the onset of the digital age – often described as the ‘technological revolution’. In particular, emails as a means of instant communication rather than letters, which would previously take days to arrive. Law firms have transformed the way they work and instructions can be obtained from clients without delay, making it easier and quicker to progress cases. Prolific use of the cloud and mobiles are likewise the norm. The old model has been robustly challenged and practices that are embracing and adapting to the technological advancements are undoubtedly reaping the benefits. (more…)

Our Leeds and Harrogate niche family law firm has appointed a highly experienced family law solicitor to join our growing Harrogate team.

Rachel Baul’s specialisms include high net worth financial cases involving business and trust assets in the UK and overseas. (more…)

Jones Myers appears regularly in the media where we comment on issues and provide advice on key areas of family law including divorce and separation, children matters, finances and pre and post-nuptial agreements.  

This week our solicitor, Elizabeth Bell, appeared in the Yorkshire Post’s ‘Legal Matters’ feature where she reinforced the urgent need to modernise the current cohabitation laws. The profile appears in full below.      (more…)

This week sees the second reading of a bill which, if passed, would enable opposite sex couples to enter a civil partnership.

Since 2004 only same-sex couples in the United Kingdom could be in a civil partnership which gives them the same rights, responsibilities and entitlements as married couples in key areas. (more…)