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Relationship breakdown and your farm

Many people who live and work on farming properties will have received the title to their farm through an intergenerational transfer of land from their parents, grandparents or other relative who lived and worked the farm before them.  Life on the land can be very stressful particularly in times of drought or economic uncertainty, as we have seen in recent years. Unfortunately if your relationship breaks down, it can feel very difficult to work out how your assets can be divided amicably, particularly when you have received the farm land as a gift from your family, or in return for many years of hard work on the land.

If your relationship breaks down after you have received an intergenerational gift of land, there is no protection under the family law that will guarantee that the land will remain an asset in your sole name.  While receiving an intergenerational gift of land, or an inheritance of farming land, is generally taken very seriously by the family law as a contribution you have made, this does not guarantee that your former spouse will not have some entitlement to a proportion of that asset or its value. 

There may be steps that you can take both before and after you receive a gift of land that better protects your ownership of the land, particularly if your marriage breaks down.  During your marriage a Trust or Company could be established to hold the land, following the death of a loved one a Deed of Family Arrangement can be prepared, and at any time before or during your marriage a Binding Financial Agreement can be entered into, to set in stone what will happen to the farm if your marriage ends for any reason.

If you would like advice about your farming property, please contact our office on (02) 4928 7300.  

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