14th December 2016
Thrings Family Law Team advised a couple through divorce proceedings, enabling them to divide their international agricultural business sustainably.
A British couple with a significant arable business in the UK and additional farming interests in Australia sought Thrings’ advice in divorce proceedings, having previously instructed us on agricultural matters.
The couple had worked in an informal partnership for more than 30 years, and their agricultural business now involved their three adult children. The nature of their agreement meant there was a lack of clear ownership of their domestic and international farming interests. The business assets needed to be divided between the couple and their children, in a way that would enable both businesses to continue operating and provide consistent income streams.
We adopted a practical, commercially minded approach from the outset, encouraging the couple to reach an agreement rather than incur the cost and complication of untangling a 30-year business in court.
To achieve this, we established the value of assets early on, and outlined our view of a fair settlement – drawing on the expertise of our agriculture team and commercial partners. Retaining a focus on the business implications of the divorce, we took a holistic view to ensure the core business would continue to function.
As we acted primarily for the wife, the husband’s residency in Australia prompted us to file swiftly for divorce proceedings in England, to ensure they were initiated under English law. We also took advice from counsel in Australia to gain clarity on enforceability of orders and to understand the implications of this cross-jurisdictional case.
By establishing a focus on the couple’s commercial goals – acting for the future benefit of the business and providing equal, sustainable income streams – we were able to avoid the cost and acrimony of litigation, and reach an economical settlement.
The divorce was resolved to the satisfaction of all parties: the husband retained his interest in Australia, and the wife and her three children continued to run the farm in the UK. This enabled the couple to move on independently with their business interests, and diversify without interference from the other party.