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What happens to the family farm in divorce

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2018 | Divorce |

Central Minnesota is home to lush farmland and ranches. Many farms have been handed down for generations in a family line. These properties are more than home; they are your livelihood and the foundation of your identity. It makes sense that you hold the family farm dear to your heart and want to protect it.

In divorce, you and your spouse will have to divide assets, including property. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that each spouse can claim, say, 6 of the 12 acres you own. The asset division process is actually more complicated.

Minnesota’s law does not follow a 50-50 rule to determine which assets each spouse will keep. Instead, it is known as an “equitable division” state that uses equitable division. This means that marital assets are split fairly instead of equally. If your divorce goes to trial, a judge would examine a few key factors about your farm.

Inheritance is always an important element. A woman who received the land from her late father would have a much stronger claim to keep it than her husband. Even after a couple is married, inheritance is usually separate from marital property.

However, if she put her husband on the deed along with her own name, he could also stake his claim to the land. In this case, the couple has joint legal ownership.

Farmland is a special asset that often blends home and business. Because this kind of property provides income, a judge would also consider any financial losses of the spouse who does not keep the land. A rancher who tends to the animals while their spouse works in an office would probably incur a greater cost without their ranch.

The trouble that many divorcing farmers find is that they inherited land, but both spouses made money with it. This is called “co-mingling” and can make it difficult to secure the land during divorce. Plenty of complex issues like this can arise, which is why divorcees with these special properties should seek legal guidance. Simple, peaceful farms and ranches may unfortunately turn into the exact opposite during the asset division process.


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