A question I often receive between March and October every year is how to deal with growing crops in a Minnesota farm divorce.
In Minnesota, the value of the marital assets is determined as of the "valuation date." The valuation date is different in every case and sometimes can be agreed upon by the parties and other times it is selected by the court. In some counties, the valuation date can be set early on in the case at an initial conference with the judge, the date of separation, or some other date. In some cases, a valuation date is not set until close to trial. This makes it very difficult to value assets which rapidly change in value over time, such as growing crops.
Typically, in farm divorces, the parities select a valuation date that exists outside of the growing season. This is done for many reasons, such as making it more cost-effective and simple to value crops, crop inputs, etc., and prevents the uncertainty of valuing a crop in the growing season.
However, when it is either not advisable or possible to select a valuation date outside of the growing season, a valuation expert can be hired to value the growing crops. It is said often that valuation is "more art than science" and the value of growing crops is subject to differing opinions based upon many variables outside of the parties' or the court's control, including but not limited to, weather and other environmental factors, the time and cost associated with growing or harvesting crops, storage, etc.
While it is not usually advisable to have a divorce valuation date be a date during the growing season, there are some reasons why it might be advantageous to do so and an experienced Minnesota farm divorce attorney can walk you through the unique particulars of your situation to provide advice and counsel concerning the risks and rewards associated with your case.
Andrew M. Tatge is a partner and chair of the Family Law and Divorce Practice Group at Gislason & Hunter LLP (www.gislason.com). He regularly represents farmers, business owners, professionals, and other high income and high net worth individuals (or their spouses) in divorce and related actions. He also writes and speaks regularly on divorce issues related to the family farm and has presented a seminar on Divorce for Farmers on behalf of the National Business Institute. Andrew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (507) 387-1115. This information is general in nature and should not be construed as tax or legal advice.