Beside You Throughout Your Legal Journey

What unique considerations do farmers face when getting divorced?

On Behalf of | Aug 18, 2023 | Divorce

Any North Carolina divorce will have its challenges. Whether that is related to child custody, spousal support, child support, property division and all it entails, people need to understand how to protect themselves. Some divorces, however, have unique issues that are relatively rare in the context of family law.

Although farming remains a prominent industry in the Tar Heel State and across the nation, it is still a relatively narrow demographic. This adds to the complexities that farming families are confronted with when they decide to divorce.

Since a family-run farm combines business and personal assets, it is harder to navigate than other divorces. For these cases, it is imperative to be aware of its unusual nature and to be fully protected.

A farmer divorce has specific concerns to address

Divorce is universal as people’s relationships stop working and they decide to part ways. Farmer divorces are no different and they happen across the United States. There are common denominators in a farmer divorce that people need to be aware of.

In recent years, people realized their marriage was failing in part because they were forced to spend more time together than they normally did due to the national crisis that resulted in people working from home or losing their jobs. For farmers, “working from home” is an everyday circumstance. This can stoke tensions that other couples do not have.

As a business, a farm is vulnerable to various problems that are beyond the owners’ control. A weather-related disaster can ruin crops and be exceedingly costly. Equipment could break down, there could be animal illness and a lack of certainty as to how much income will be brought in.

When the marriage falters, a farming family needs to try to divide its assets in a fair way. If the business and property are commingled, it can cause confusion. There are likely to be business accounts, retirement accounts, loans and more that can be hard to calculate and split.

In North Carolina, the courts strive to come to a fair resolution when dividing property. That is not necessarily 50-50. Issues such as who owned what at the start of the marriage and how much each side contributed to an increase in property and business value will be considered. Some farming couples had contingencies in place in case they divorced like a premarital agreement. This needs to be scrutinized if there is such an agreement.

Be prepared when moving forward with a farmer divorce

The personal, professional and financial implications of any divorce can be confusing. That is particularly worrisome in a farm family divorce. Just as any aspect in life, divorce is part of the journey. Trying to split the farm fairly while maintaining its operation can be difficult, but with thoughtful planning and flexibility, it is possible to make it through.

This is a specific area of the law and it is vital to have tailored assistance to address the issues that will arise. Perhaps the sides are on reasonably good terms and can negotiate an amicable settlement without an extended court case. They might specifically determine who is entitled to what and move forward. In more contentious cases, the situation could take longer to hash out.

Regardless, people need to know their rights and have options to keep the farm operating while trying to end the marriage. Knowing and preparing for the distinctive factors that are part of a farmer divorce is essential from the outset and can be helpful with reaching a positive outcome.