A combine harvests a cereal crop

Pre-nups – farmers get future spouses to sign

They were once the preserve of the rich and famous, but now some Taunton area farmers are demanding their future spouses sign pre-nuptial agreements.

This article was published in the Somerset County Gazette on Wednesday 13 July 2011.

Locals afraid of losing family farms as divorce rates in the farming community increase are heading for their solicitor.

Clarke Willmott’s Daniel Eames has seen a 50% rise in farmers asking him to arrange pre-nups in the past eight months.

He said: “The number of farming divorces has increased quite significantly in recent years. One of the reasons is more farmers have chosen to marry out of the rural community – unfortunately those marriages sometimes don’t last as the reality of life on a farm can be much tougher than people expect. Understandably, farmers are now looking to protect against the effects of a future divorce. Some of the older generation of farmers are so worried about the future of the family business, they’re coming to us saying, ‘How can I stop my son or daughter’s future spouse from taking half the farm if the marriage doesn’t work?’”

Mr Eames said standard separations see a 50/50 split, although settlements can now be based on providing for the other person’s needs for a limited period.

He added: “It’s a difficult subject to broach and will be considered by many as unromantic, but it’s far better to have one in place just in case.”

The NFU’s Ian Johnson said: “It is an issue because succession is important for farmers. “Farming isn’t a life time career – it’s generational. “Planning is essential, particularly succession planning.”

For more information on any of the issues raised in this article, please contact Daniel Eames.