April 11, 2014. In divorce cases, judges are tasked with distributing marital assets equitably, which does not always mean mathematically equal. In order to do this, the court must identify all assets and liabilities in existence. This presents a particularly difficult challenge in farm divorces. A farm is not typically as asset to be divided, but rather a family farm passed from generation to generation. The courts want to preserve this asset for future generations.

The initial issue the court faces is deciding if the farm land is separate or marital property. If the farm is a gift or inheritance, the court must examine several facts to decide whether the property should be divided. The court will look at the contributions of the parties toward the property, its care, preservation or improvement; the existence of any independent close relationship between the spouse who received the property and the donor or testator; separate contributions by the parties to their economic welfare to whatever extent those contributions preserve the property for either of them; any special needs of either party; and any other matter which would render it plainly unfair to a spouse or child to have the property set aside for the exclusive enjoyment of the done or devisee. The court can also look at the length of the marriage and the age, physical and emotional health of the parties, the earning capacity of each party and the economic circumstances of the parties. The critical inquiry will be whether the distribution is equitable. This decision is in the discretion of the court.

If you find yourself facing a divorce where farmland is at stake, you will want to fully discuss these factors with your attorney to determine the best way to proceed with your farm divorce case.

For additional information about gifted or inherited farms, contact the Goosmann Law Firm at info@goosmannlaw.com or call 712-226-4000.

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