How marrying into a ranching or farming family affects divorce

On Behalf of | Nov 18, 2020 | Divorce

Texas has a proud tradition of independent ranchers and farmers using the natural resources of the state to turn a significant profit. Marrying into a ranching family might mean living out in incredible open spaces and essentially being your own boss if you start helping to work on the ranch.

However, especially if this is an intergenerational farming or ranching enterprise, it is likely that your spouse’s family situation will complicate your rights in a divorce. While Texas is a community property state for asset distribution, ranching and farming lifestyles make it easier for people to hide assets and deprive their spouse of a fair settlement.

Your spouse may have a relatively low income on paper

You may enjoy an affluent lifestyle and live in a modern, spacious house. However, when your spouse files their taxes, they are only going to claim the actual income they personally make from the ranch or farm, which might be shockingly low.

After all, if the ranch provides you with housing, covers your utility costs and even supplies you with food, your expenses might be minimal. Unfortunately, that low income on paper can leave you in a disadvantaged position if you hope to secure spousal support or child support in the divorce. After all, income is one of the primary considerations in setting amounts for those forms of support.

You may have a struggle to claim your home or even your vehicle

One of the ways that farmers and ranchers can survive on such low income is how the work through their family business provides them with everything from a space to live to a vehicle to drive. The family will probably have invested in careful legal protections, such as using a trust to hold major assets like real estate and vehicles, as well as farm equipment.

Your spouse could theoretically have hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets that will be difficult for you to lay claim to in the divorce. Especially for high-asset ranching households, as the spouse not from the family that owns the land, you will have an uphill battle when you try to secure a fair outcome in your divorce, which necessitates good advice and strategy.