Farming families have been warned to avoid creating a "self-fulfilling prophecy" for divorce.

Speaking at a Women in Dairy event on Wednesday (May 26) farm business planning facilitator Siân Bushell said it was important to talk about the tricky issues, set boundaries and make space for everyone.

Bushell also said it was important to regularly review farm succession plans as intentions and situations change.

"Succession will happen, none of us get out of this alive. If you don't plan for this circumstances may dictate how things pan out in the future if you haven't planned for it properly and that could be a cause of huge expense or family fall-out," she said.

"The younger generation coming in has a very different attitude to work than previous generations - they want to work smarter, not harder whereas some previous generations would think that if you didn't work 24-7 you were a hopeless farmer. So that needs to be talked about and understood. "

Housing for farm children was another key concern on Bushell's radar. But where there's a partner involved, "it is better if they do not live within sight of mum and dad," she warned.

"You may have a laugh about that, but it is really important. Some of the most difficult, saddest conversations I have had have been where the young person has come back with a spouse or a partner and the family are falling out all the time - they are quarrelling about everything," she said.

She gave one example where the situation had got so tense it had even descended into arguments over where the cars were being parked.

Bushell said it was also important boundaries are established.

"It's very important people have their own space," she said. "I have come across cases where there had been divorce because there has been too much of a clash because they are living too close together.

"It might be cheaper to build a barn conversion... but divorce is very expensive too," she said. "Some people manage it very well, but others don't.

"If you have got a barn conversion make sure people have their own space and privacy - and set out a few ground rules as well," she said.

Bushell stressed the importance of having conversations over succession early on but said that it was not the advisor's role to come up with a plan for the family.

"I help them come up with a plan but I don't make the plan for them - and that's really important because I'm not the one who has to implement the plan - it's the family who has to do it. You can have as many experts involved to help you out as you want, but in the end, it's you that has to do put it into practice," she said.

Welcome in-laws into the family or risk divorce

As for one last point: "Be very good to you in-laws - your son-in-laws and your daughter-in-laws," she warned.

"If you don't want them in the business that's up to you but for goodness sake welcome them into the family.

"Some families it's often - but not always - that the daughter-law-in is treated like a pariah because they are worried she's going to run off with the farm. Well if you treat her like that it's more likely that she will.

"In a lot of families, they not only organise business meetings, but family get-togethers as well so that the in-laws have a little bit of an understanding of the business and what's happening on the farm - you must help them to feel part of the family, because that's very important.

"The thing you want to avoid is family break-up. I see so much of it and a lot of it is preventable by sitting down and making people feel involved.

"You're almost making it a self-fulfilling prophecy if you don't welcome the son or daughter-in-law into the business."