Your family farm represents years, often generations, of hard work and perseverance. You and your family have held onto it when the market prices weren’t enough to pay back the bank and when Mother Nature dried up your profits. But now that you may go through a divorce, how can this new situation affect your farm?

Divorce always has difficulties for any couple. But farmers face unique struggles when they try to divide their property while keeping their livelihood. Without a clear plan, they may lose the land they’ve worked so hard to maintain.

Farmers have more to lose in property

One of the biggest concerns of divorcing farmers is the division of property. In Wyoming, any assets earned during marriage can split between the two former spouses. And even if the farmer had the land before marrying, paying for its development out of joint accounts can make it marital property.

When you go before a court, a judge may require you to buy out a large chunk of your farm to pay your spouse. If you don’t have the funds to cover the buyout, you may need to sell. This loss can mean you must start over to farm again.

An improper income valuation can put farmers at a disadvantage

You can also find yourself at a disadvantage for alimony and child support judgments. When courts determine these amounts, they will look at your assets and income. However, you may need to pay considerable expenses into livestock or crops before you receive your paycheck. If a judge doesn’t account for this difference, your payments may be more than you can afford.

Protecting your farm

As a farmer, your divorce may have more difficulties than others. But that doesn’t mean you have to lose everything. You can protect your farm with prenuptial agreements and proper estate planning techniques. You may also want to speak with a lawyer to make sure you can protect your interests.