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Protecting the family farm in divorce

On Behalf of | Jul 16, 2019 | Firm News |

The heart and soul of Nebraska is all about farming. However, farm families face special challenges when couples decide to divorce. Protecting a farm that has been in the family for generations isn’t easy in divorce, especially if its operations have grown during the marriage and multiple family members are a part of running it.

Prenuptial agreements

The easiest way to protect the family farm from needing to sell off land or equipment in a divorce is to have a prenuptial agreement. With a prenuptial agreement, farmers can specify the value of their land and farming operations and determine how any assets gained during marriage will be divided. They also can commit to taking care of a spouse without having to include the farm in property division.


For farmers who want to pass on the family farm to their children, they can establish a trust with the farm as the trust’s asset. With a trust in place, farmers can prevent the farm from going to a second spouse in the case of remarriage and ensure the farm remains in the family.

Current value of the farm

As with anyone who owns a business and is facing divorce, farmers need to have the current value of their farm and farming operations evaluated. To do that, you’ll need to gather bank statements, investment information, mortgage and insurance documents. You more than likely also will need to get a professional appraisal of the land and operations’ worth.

Alimony or spousal support

If your spouse has been largely a stay-at-home parent who has helped with farming tasks too, you will have to have an honest conversation of what her future role in the farm will be. If your spouse sidelined her career to raise children and help on the family farm, she may be eligible for alimony in a divorce. Nebraska has no set formula on calculating spousal support, but spouses who need to care for young children or who will need time to get additional training to rejoin the workforce do receive it—most often for a set amount of time after a divorce.

Facing divorce when you are a farmer can feel overwhelming. The stress of keeping the family farm operating and profitable wears on you and often affects your marriage. If you decide to divorce, consult an experienced family law attorney so that you can divide your assets fairly while still protecting your livelihood and keeping the farm running strong for the next generation.