Excellent news for UK farmers today as the government announces a £20 million fund from the European Regional Development Fund Programme to provide grants to SMEs, including farmers, for legal and other professional support to help post-lockdown recovery.

As a family lawyer I have seen a huge increase in the last month in the number of enquiries from farmers about possible divorce. There can be little doubt that life was already stressful enough for most farmers well before the pandemic bowled in to their lives. Sadly, farming families are particularly susceptible to divorce. The combination of living and working together 24/7, of being capital-rich but income poor, of being susceptible to the impact of the weather, global warming, crop failure, livestock disease... the list goes on. Given the added impact of the pandemic on the farming industry, it can be little surprise that some farming marriages just haven't been able to weather the storm.

I hope very much indeed that there will be farming couples out there who can use these grants to take the sort of professional advice that might ease some of the underlying stress they are experiencing. Even if that isn't the case they may well benefit from professional & legal advice that will help them to separate as amicably and calmly as possible. Even though the ending of a farming marriage might feel for many like the start of an inevitable, unpleasant battle, taking the right steps early on could well mean that the future needs of spouses and children can be provided for without irreparably damaging the business or forcing a sale of the farm.