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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 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…)

Jones Myers’ highly-experienced Children Department continues to represent the mother of a 12 year old girl from Leeds who has been missing in Egypt since 2011.

Recent developments in the long-standing case include High Court judge Mr Justice Mostyn asking Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to help locate Elsa Salama who was abducted aged just 4 by her father, Tamer Salama.

Jones Myers has represented Elsa’s mother Naomi Button in her relentless campaign to be reunited with her daughter who was snatched by her estranged husband from the resort of Sharm El Sheikh on 27 December 2011 while on holiday with her mother to visit her paternal family in Egypt. (more…)

News of the arrival of Meghan and Harry’s beautiful baby boy Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor – has brought happiness and joy to well wishers the world over.

Oblivious to his prestigious birthright as seventh in line to the throne, the most important factors in his first days, weeks, months and years will be waking up every day to a caring and nurturing environment with loving parents who dote on him.

Sadly not every relationship culminates in a fairy tale as many couples reach the painful decision that they are unable to live in harmony together with divorce or separation being the only option. (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…)

By Peter Jones, founder

I was delighted but not surprised to read that grandparents believe their well-being and mental health is boosted after spending time with their grandchildren.

A study commissioned by Parkdean Resorts in conjunction with biogerontologist Dr James Brown highlights how grandparents who interact and play with their grandchildren experience improved moods, memory, physical well-being and less loneliness – all of which can be conducive to a happier and healthier life. (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…)

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…)

By Norman Taylor, collaborative law expert
Can I obtain a divorce without telling my spouse?’ was among the questions I received from listeners when I recently appeared on BBC Radio Leeds ‘The Professionals’ with Richard Stead.

There may be numerous reasons why you ask this question.

It could be because your husband or wife has left without providing support for you and your children, or that you are concerned about how they would react. (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…)