Do you get to keep the family farm in a divorce?

You wake up before the sun rises and know the sound of whirring tractors, the smell of manure and the mooing of your cows well. Your family has lived on this Nebraska farm for generations, and you've finally inherited it. You feel grateful your children can have a similar childhood to yours.

However, your pending divorce brings uncertainty and anxieties to the farm, as you may wonder if your ex-spouse has any claim to it. The farm is more than just the land and buildings. It's the machinery you use, the livestock you raise and the crops you grow. Could your ex-spouse reap the financial benefits of your hard work in the fields and your time spent caring for the animals? Your farm consists of many assets and losing one could greatly affect its operation and success.

How are separate and marital property different?

Nebraska is an equitable division state, which means the courts divide property fairly but not necessarily equally. Before making an official decision, Nebraska courts classify your property as marital or separate (non-marital).

Property owned or acquired before marriage is called separate, or non-marital property. A prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement could allow you to keep some of your property as separate.

Meanwhile, marital property is property you and your ex-spouse bought together, such as cars and houses. Marital property also includes any joint bank or retirement accounts you both have contributed to, but it excludes inheritances or other gifts given specifically to you.

How do Nebraska family courts divide property?

A Nebraska judge considers the following factors when determining property division:

  • The length of your marriage.
  • Your financial status both at the time of divorce and after divorce.
  • Your monetary contributions to the marriage.
  • Your non-monetary contributions, such as caring for your children.

Courts may consider additional factors regarding property division cases. Dividing who gets what in a divorce does not happen easily, and the many assets in farm divorces complicate that decision even more. 

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