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Saving your ranch or farm during a divorce

Divorce can be a trying experience. Emotions run high, and a couple that previously was willing to do anything for one another are now fighting, possibly intensely, over custody and familial assets. If your family owns and operates a ranch or a farm, divorce can destroy that livelihood unless you take steps to protect yourself and your ranch or farm.

The first and most critical step is to retain the services of an experienced divorce attorney who is familiar with both the laws of the state of Montana and the unique circumstances that may impact the divorce proceedings when one or both members of the divorcing couple work for, or partially own, a farm or a ranch.

Why ranch- and farm-related divorces are more complex

When determining how to split the marital assets in a divorce and figuring out what represents a reasonable amount of child or spousal support - if appropriate and necessary - the courts need to look at a number of factors. Often, ranches and farms are family-owned for generations, resulting in a situation where it can be hard to put a number on income. Perhaps the spouse who is partial owner shares the property with parents or siblings, who may own shares if the farm is incorporated. They may have low salaries, but there's the consideration of free housing and other cost-of-living sharing, such as food supplied by the ranch.

If family land is at risk, tensions can run high

Any divorce has the potential to be expensive, even financially devastating. For those who own or operate a ranch or farm as their primary source of income, a divorce could result in the loss of the property, which may have been in their families for generations. This can be emotionally traumatic and result in drastic and inappropriate emotional responses, such as threats and violence from an otherwise upstanding citizen. The best way to avoid a negative outcome for everyone involved is to make the critical decision to work with an experienced divorce attorney as soon as you can.

An experienced divorce attorney will help protect your farm or ranch

If you are land-rich but cash-poor, your equity in the ranch or farm could be at risk during and after a divorce. That is why it is critical that you obtain the services of an experienced Montana divorce attorney as soon as you know a divorce is inevitable. He or she can help ensure that the financial interests of both divorcing parties are protected, while also helping to protect the ranch or farm from liquidation or sale.

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