Agriculture is one of the most important industries in our state. According to data provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), there are more than 80,000 farms operating in Ohio. Farming is more than just a business—it is a way of life. At the same time, when farm owners get divorced, they must take the proper steps to protect their rights and their business. In this article, our Delaware business owner divorce attorneys explain the most important things that you need to know about farm ownership and the divorce process in Ohio.
Background: Ohio is an Equitable Distribution State
First and foremost, it is important to emphasize that Ohio uses an equitable distribution standard for property division in divorce. Under Ohio law (Ohio Revised Code § 3105.171), a couple’s marital property will be split in the manner deemed to be “most fair.” A business, including a farm, maybe deemed marital property in Ohio. If your farm is marital property, then it is subject to equitable distribution in divorce. A farmer will generally be deemed marital property if:
- It was acquired or started after the beginning of the marriage;
- It gained significant value during the course of the marriage; or
- It was commingled and/or marital assets were used to support the farm.
It is possible for a farm to be kept as ‘separate property’ in Ohio. In many cases, this is done with a
prenuptial agreement. A prenup should always be drafted and reviewed by an experienced lawyer. There are precise standards that a prenuptial agreement must satisfy to be deemed legally valid in Ohio.
A Comprehensive Business Valuation (Farm Valuation) is a Must
If you are a farm business owner going through a divorce in Central Ohio, it is imperative that you get a comprehensive business valuation for your farm. Before you can proceed with a divorce, you need to know the true fair market value of the farm. Valuing a farm requires a comprehensive and professional assessment of:
- The value of all business assets (land, livestock, equipment, etc);
- The value of goodwill created by the business; and
- The debts and liabilities held by the farm.
Save the Farm: Collaborative Solutions Often Work Best for Farm Owners
Every divorce case is different. While ending a marriage is never easy, it can be especially challenging for business farm owners. No matter the specific circumstances you are going through, an experienced Delaware, OH divorce lawyer can help you devise the best strategy for saving the farm. This starts with determining whether or not the farm is a marital asset. From there, collaborative solutions often work best. Farm owner divorce may be well-suited for mediation.
Contact Our Ohio Business Owner Divorce Lawyers for Immediate Help
At the Lawrence Law Office, our Delaware business owner divorce lawyers have specialized skills and legal expertise to protect the rights and interests of farmers. If you own a farm and you are preparing for a divorce, we are more than ready to help. From our Delaware law office, we provide family and divorce representation in Franklin County and throughout Central Ohio.
Call us now at (614) 363-0553 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. contact us online.