Farmers feed America and contribute quite a bit to the Pennsylvania economy. Some people wind up in agriculture because it is their family industry. Their parents, grandparents and even siblings may also play a role on the farm.
Other times, people choose farming as a profession. You and your spouse may have decided that running your own apple farm seemed like a really romantic and ideal career path as you started your own family.
Regardless of how apple farming became a part of your married life, it will likely play a role in complicating your divorce, especially when it comes to issues such as the division of your assets and the collection of either child support or spousal support, also known as alimony.
Family farms can be hard to value or claim in a divorce
Most real estate can be quickly and effectively appraised based on the condition of any structures and the arbitrary value of the land itself. Farms exist in a financial gray area, in part because the land itself may be of substantially more value than any houses or buildings on the property.
The situation can quickly become even more complicated if neither you nor your ex is on the title to the property. When either spouse works on a farm owned by their parents or jointly with other family members such as siblings and cousins, determining the value of that person’s ownership share becomes much harder. Some families, knowing a divorce is imminent, might even do questionable things with the title to the farmland in the hopes of keeping it out of the divorce.
Farming can produce deceptively low income
When the courts decide how to split up your assets and whether support is reasonable or necessary, they look at the financial circumstances of everyone in the family. Farmers often have very low income, but they may not have any housing expenses because they can live on the family farm.
This discrepancy between provable income and the actual standard of living enjoyed by a family can add to the confusion and difficulty in securing a fair outcome in a modern Pennsylvania divorce.
Whether you married into a farming family and simply expect a fair outcome to your divorce or you want to protect your farm from liquidation so that you can maintain your agricultural career, careful legal planning will often be necessary for farmers facing a divorce in Pennsylvania.