Jamie Graham & Associates, PLLC

Divorce among farming couples brings unique challenges

There are thousands of family farms in Texas, spanning millions of acres across the state. Up until the crisis in the farming industry in the 1980s, the divorce rate among couples that farmed was less than the national average. Following the crisis, the rate of divorce among farming couples rose to equal the rate of other couples throughout the country.

Since that time, the divorce rate has dropped considerably for all couples in the nation, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research. The rate is now 16.7 divorces for every 1,000 couples every year, compared to 10 per 1,000 farm couples. The Census Bureau no longer tracks farming as option in its surveys, so data must be collected from other sources.

Issues concerning inheritance, ownership of property and debt responsibility are among those that can complicate divorce discussions. As emotions in a divorce can run high, it is important to focus on seeking a comprehensive resolution. Experts state that prenuptial agreements may prove useful in deliberations, particularly if the agreement was recently developed. Courts have previously ruled against terms in an agreement if expenses for the farm were paid jointly.

Some business advisors recommend a letter of instruction to provide clarity in handling the farm should a divorce occur. The letter would include directions on how the assets of the farm should be distributed. Though less common than prenuptial agreements, these letters can help settle disputes about the farm in court, particularly if they are updated on frequently.

Financial issues are prevalent in any divorce deliberations, whether a couple owns a farm or not. To make sure that someone's financial position is protect, it would be advantageous to seek the guidance of a Texas divorce attorney. A trusted lawyer will work together with clients to seek the best outcome possible in their divorce proceedings.

Source: agweek.com, "Divorce is more complicated for farm couples than for most couples", Mike Rosmann, Jan. 23, 2018

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