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By Jul 15, 2023 Posted in Divorce

Farmers face unique challenges in the divorce process. One of these challenges is protecting your farm from being unfairly divided with your soon-to-be former spouse. Not only does your farm hold tremendous sentimental value, but it also carries significant economic value. If you are a farmer planning to divorce, protect your agricultural assets by working with a family law attorney who understands what is at stake. 

The Farm Itself

Iowa is an equitable distribution state, meaning the court will attempt to divide all marital property between the two spouses as equitably and fairly as possible. However, this rule applies only to marital property, i.e., acquired during the marriage. Since many farms are passed down through families, the farm may not be considered marital property and, therefore, not subject to division. 

However, farmers need to be aware that their farm may be considered marital property and subject to division if it would otherwise be inequitable for the other spouse. In making this determination, the court will consider the following factors: 

  • Whether the other spouse substantially contributed to the improvement, preservation, or care of the farm
  • The individual and separate contributions that each spouse made to running the farm
  • If the farm was inherited/gifted to one spouse, the court will look at whether the other spouse had a close relationship with the person through whom inheritance/gift occurred
  • The special needs of the spouses
  • Whether it would be unfair to the other spouse or the children of the marriage for the property to be considered separate non-marital property  

As a result, your spouse may claim that they are entitled to half the value of the farm. While you may not be required to sell the farm and split the proceeds, you may have to give up other assets of equal value. A skilled advocate on your side will be able to demonstrate why the factors listed above do not apply. 

Equipment, Livestock, Crops, and Other Assets

Again, anything purchased during the marriage may be considered marital property and subject to division. Many farm assets are likely to fall into this category.

The key issue will be how these assets are valued. In some cases, you will need to consider the property’s value minus any depreciation and other claims. For example, you may owe money on an expensive piece of equipment even though you have owned it for five years. It would be a serious mistake to value that equipment according to what you purchased it for five years ago. 

More than likely, you will need to engage the services of an agricultural appraiser. You will also need a legal advocate to ensure all factors are appropriately considered and accounted for. 

Call Simpson Legal Group to Protect Your Agricultural Assets

If you are a farmer considering divorce, you have too much at stake to risk going in blind. Get the help you need to make sure your interests are fully protected. Contact us today at 712-256-9899 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case and options.

Contact Us

50 Northcrest Drive, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51503
Phone: 712.256.9899

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