All divorces are complicated and require many decisions. Depending on your profession, those complications can multiply. For farm owners, those complications can go even further.
Untangling the commingled property is the biggest issue in an agricultural divorce. Your farm may have been in your family for generations, but if your spouse contributed to its worth and welfare, they may be entitled to partial ownership.
In this article, we will explore the difficulties of separating property in your agricultural divorce, and we will provide suggestions for what to do next.
Splitting Property in an Iowa Divorce
Iowa operates under the “equitable property division” model. Put simply, the court attempts to divide property according to fairness. It is less interested in whose name is on the lease or who made the payments. If it believes one spouse is more deserving of an asset, it will grant them sole ownership.
Determining fairness can be difficult when it comes to the family farm. Let’s imagine it was passed down to you by your parents. You eventually get married, and your spouse helps you work and manage the farm. Normally, anything you own or inherit is separate property, belonging to you alone.
However, your spouse’s contribution to your farm may grant them some degree of ownership in the divorce. Not only did they work the farm, helping it grow and make a profit, but their livelihood is also connected to the farm. In theory, the court could assume that your spouse should continue to receive profits from your farm indefinitely. These complications can extend to specific machines or vehicles.
Sole Ownership in an Agricultural Divorce
When considering the facts above, it may seem easiest to allow one person to keep all farmland and machinery, and they can pay the other spouse what they deserve. This is a streamlined, elegant solution, but it may not be fair to the farmer who keeps their farm.
Your farm’s value is generally in the assets themselves. You might make a good living, but that simply won’t be enough to give your spouse a huge payout.
Moreover, you may be ordered to pay spousal and child support, furthering your financial burden. It could take years to pay off what you owe your spouse while maintaining your own expenses.
This value we’re discussing may not be easy to determine. Your farm has so many moving parts.
Your farm’s worth is tied up in:
- And more
This list doesn’t even include any unrelated assets. There are shared items in the home that must be divided in the divorce, too.
Getting Legal Help with Your Agricultural Divorce
Ultimately, you and your spouse have the right to divide any property however you see fit. This, however, is inadvisable. Untangling this legal mess takes a lot of time and the skills of a highly qualified attorney.
IF you want your divorce to be amicable and uncontested, consider mediation. In this scenario, the mediator works for both spouses, attempting to reach the best solutions for both. Not only can they help with the legal complexities, but they can also assist in the negotiations.
If your divorce must go to court, representing yourself will be almost impossible. First, you must do all the work described above, valuing your land in an honest, accurate way. Then you must build your legal arguments for keeping this or that asset.
For help with your agricultural divorce, trust our firm to guide you in the right direction. For a free consultation, you can call us today at (515) 200-7571 or contact us online.