Illinois farm. Red barn and farmhouse on farm.

Rockford Divorce Lawyer James Teeter

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Farm Divorce Lawyer for the Division of Farmland, Real Estate & Agricultural Businesses

For farmers, few things are more critical than protecting their farmland and other real estate, as such assets are often their livelihoods. Often, a farm may have been in the family for generations, and thus owners may have a strong motivation to pass the farm to the next generation.

If you are contemplating or are in the midst of a divorce and need help protecting farming assets or your share in a family farm or other significant real estate assets, I invite you to call my office to schedule a free general consultation or a paid in-depth consultation. I’ve helped countless individuals involved in farming and real estate investment reach fair and amicable divorce settlements, helping protect what matters most.

As a Rockford farm divorce lawyer, I can tenaciously fight in seeking to get you the best possible outcome. Whether you are the primary participant in an agricultural enterprise or a non-participating spouse seeking a share of joint real estate and agricultural assets, I can help. Call today to learn how I zealously advocate for clients’ rights and tenaciously fight to obtain everything to which they are rightfully entitled.

Divorce FAQs

It depends.

Illinois law mandates that marital assets be equitably divided among the parties, and there is no legal presumption that marital property should be allocated equally (i.e., split 50/50). Marital property typically consists of all assets and debts accumulated throughout a marriage. Conversely, properties acquired before marriage or as a result of an inheritance or gift are considered non-marital assets and are typically not divisible during a divorce. Thus, if you inherited family farmlands or other real estate, such assets may be considered non-marital property and not subject to division.

However, complications can arise when property or a farm inherited or owned individually before marriage is commingled with marital property. In such cases, the once non-marital property can be recategorized as marital property and divided during divorce proceedings. Consequently, if you are trying to protect your rightful interest in an Illinois farm, it is critical to seek guidance from an experienced farm divorce attorney to help you protect your interests.

When an active agricultural business or farm is included in a divorce, there are significant factors that must be addressed, beginning with the valuation. Placing a value on a farm or company can be challenging.

There can be different valuations placed on a farm conditioned upon the use of the land as farmland or otherwise.  As an example, if the farm is valued as an ongoing farming operation, the value may be determined by taking the expected future income from the business and then discounting this income stream by some imputed interest rate factor to arrive at the value of the farm.

Alternatively, many farms now will have a higher valuation based solely upon the value of the land.  This is especially the case in Northern Illinois, where many farms that were once “in the country” now abut growing subdivisions.  In these cases, the value of the farmland for new subdivision or commercial real estate purposes may be significantly higher than the value of the land as used as a farm.  If this is the case, then the value of the farm may be equal to the value at which the land and farming assets could be sold.

In either of these cases, an independent land appraiser and/or business valuation expert would need to be retained in order to determine that value.  I help clients in these matters by working with such experts to determine valuations.

When marriage and farm succession planning are done correctly, the likelihood of contentious disputes and harm to a farm operation during a divorce significantly decreases. Many farmers are now using prenuptial agreements, trusts, and other comprehensive succession planning to ensure that family farms are transferred from one generation to the next as intended, as well as to minimize potential estate taxes.

Ideally, such succession planning should be done either before marriage or at least before a divorce is contemplated.  If you are the owner of a family farm, you may wish to seek the counsel of a family farm succession lawyer to protect your interests.

In many cases, one of the spouses may have inherited a family farm, or otherwise purchased the farm before marriage.  In these cases, I am available to advocate strongly on behalf of either spouse – either that the farm is not a marital asset subject to division (if representing the spouse who inherited the farm), or that that farm has become martial property by virtue of time, expenditures, and (in some cases) promises that have occurred regarding ownership (if representing the other spouse).

The outcome of these matters can be agreed upon by the parties, or they may be left to a court.  If the spouse who did not inherit the family farm is entitled to some part of the value of the farm, then there are a variety of mechanisms available to satisfy the division or property, including:

  • Selling the farm. This usually is a last resort in the case of family farms when the family member desires to continue farming.
  • Satisfying a spouse’s property entitlement out of other assets. As an example, the spouse may receive the rights to vehicles, retirement account assets, or other assets.
  • Pay off a spouse’s share over time. The family member spouse might also pay the other spouse over some time period for such share.
  • A combination of the above. Some farmland may be sold, and other assets may be given to the spouse, as well as payments may be made over time.

Regardless of whether you are the spouse who inherited a farm or if you are the other spouse, I can help you understand and advocate for your full property rights.

Dividing real estate and farmland can be highly fact-specific and requires significant effort and resources to ensure a fair outcome. When divorce arises, care should be taken to minimize the negative impact on a family farm. As a zealous advocate and experienced negotiator, I can help navigate the challenges associated with divorce involving a farm, including (but not limited to):

  • Using business valuation techniques and consulting with experts (as needed) in seeking a fair valuation of all marital assets;
  • Negotiating cash payouts;
  • Constructing rental agreements and options to buy land awarded to a non-farming spouse;
  • Accounting for tax consequences related to assets; and/or
  • Tenaciously advocating for a client’s rights through every step of the process.

As a Rockford divorce attorney with decades of legal experience, I handle nearly all types of divorce and asset division cases, including those involving:

  • Farmland
  • Family Farms
  • Tenancy Issues
  • Livestock
  • Agricultural Products
  • Crops
  • Equipment
  • Real Estate

Call Today to Schedule a Free Consultation to Learn More About Protecting Your Interest in an Illinois Farm or Real Estate.

Farm and agricultural businesses often have high capital investments in real estate, commercial machinery, livestock, equipment, and crops. During a divorce, all of the assets may be subject to division. As an experienced Illinois divorce and farm division attorney, it is my goal to seek creative and pragmatic solutions to resolve complex property division disputes.

Whether you are a farmer involved in the day-to-day operations of an agricultural operation and want to protect your business or are a non-participating spouse who would like to pursue your share of joint assets, I can help. Call today to schedule a free consultation to learn how I can work to develop an effective strategy to pursue your objectives.

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Attorney James O. Teeter, Jr. speaking with client. Attorney James O. Teeter, Jr. speaking with client.

Family Law Attorney James O. Teeter Jr.
With 25+ Years of Legal Experience
is Here to Represent You!

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$199 CONSULTATION

(1.5 Hrs.) One Hour for $199 + 30-Minutes FREE with No-Obligation | In-Person, by Zoom or by Phone
In-Depth Discussion of Your Specific Situation and Potential Strategy | Or

Type of Case:
Illinois County:
Please enter a number from 0 to 21.

Submission of information through the contact form does not create an attorney-client relationship, so please do not submit any confidential information. If we are to serve as your attorneys, all fees and the nature of our representation will be set forth in a written agreement.