Andersons Solicitors help with farming and separation

NEED HELP: It is a smart move to seek legal assistance regarding separation and assets. Photos: Supplied
NEED HELP: It is a smart move to seek legal assistance regarding separation and assets. Photos: Supplied

MORE and more people have been seeking legal assistance regarding separation in circumstances where both parties have either lived on a farm or both lived and worked on a farm.

There is a step-by-step process when dividing property in family law matter. At Andersons Solicitors , we assist parties in dividing property after separation, so where there is a family farm involved, the process is similar. Still, special consideration needs to be given to the circumstances of the matter.

Here is an example of how things can play out:

THE COMPLEX SCENARIO 

Meet Sarah and Sam, and their two children, Timmy and Tom*. Sarah lives on a farm with her kids and her husband, Sam, who grows crops on the land and runs sheep.

The farm has been in the family for more than 50 years, and was gifted to Sam by his parents. The property is about 2000 hectares and Sarah and Sam have lived there since they married 15 years ago.

Until recently, Sam's parents lived in the main house, and Sarah and Sam lived in a separate cottage built on the land. When Sam's parents moved into town more than 60 kilometres away, Sarah and Sam and the children moved into the main house.

Timmy and Tom are grown teenagers who attend the local high school and, essentially, take care of themselves.

While Sarah spends a lot of time at home undertaking homemaker duties, Sam spends long hours working the land. Shearing season is a particularly busy time of year for the family, so Sarah cooks for and feeds all the hungry workers while Sam oversees the work. Needing help, Sarah asked Sam if he could employ a cook; however, he rejected the idea.

Since they married, Sarah has not worked in paid employment and does not have any potential job prospects. While Sam says that he is the breadwinner and has been paying all the bills since they married, Sarah has always been free to use their joint bank account as she wishes.

In the beginning, Sarah liked living on the farm, but now she's not so sure. As time has passed, Sarah and Sam's relationship has unfortunately broken down and they have decided to separate.

So, what happens next?

WHAT DOES SARAH NEED TO CONSIDER?

Many factors need to be considered when dividing the assets and liabilities of a relationship, including the contributions made by either party to the property pool.

Just because Sam was given the family farm, it does not mean that Sarah does not have a financial claim against it. The first step is to work out what of the property pool is available to be divided. The contributions for consideration aren't purely financial, but also non-financial contributions such as cooking, cleaning and caring for the children.

HI: Andersons Solicitors' Nestoras Alexandropoulos. Photo: Supplied

HI: Andersons Solicitors' Nestoras Alexandropoulos. Photo: Supplied

WHAT DOES SAM NEED TO CONSIDER?

If Sarah has a claim against the farm, Sam may need to "pay her out" in a settlement as the farm is his sole source of income, and the land has been in the family for generations.

This is a significant factor that needs to be considered when determining how the property pool will be divided.

Possible solutions need to be explored to separate the parties' finances but still retain the family farm, in consultation with Sam's accountant and banker.

It takes careful consideration and planning to figure out how to work around these issues and achieve a just and equitable outcome: one where Sarah receives a fair settlement but where Sam's livelihood remains secure.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?

No two separations are identical and a tailored approach to each and every case is required. The above is an example of a complex issue that can arise in family law matters. It is important that you seek advice and assistance from an experienced family lawyer.

At Andersons Solicitors, we have been finding legal solutions for South Australians for more than 50 years and are committed to providing long-term support and commitment to the local community. We're aware not one circumstance is the same, so will work with you to assess your situation and help navigate you through the process.

We will work with you to assess your situation and help navigate you through the process.

* DISCLAIMER: The people in this article are for illustrative purposes only, and in no way represent past or present clients of Andersons Solicitors.

The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice, please consult a solicitor regarding your personal circumstances.

DETAILS

SHARE