What are third-party rights in high net worth divorce proceedings?

High net worth divorce litigation is usually a two-party controversy. However, third-party involvement in divorce cases currently occurs in a variety of contexts and needs to be handled appropriately.

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As the relationship between two spouses increases in complexity, efficient judicial process management is essential when it comes to marriage dissolution. High net worth divorces can be complex in nature, especially when you add jointly held property, business interests, or children into the mix. This is one sure way in which a high net worth divorce becomes even more convoluted.

Although it is not a typical scenario, there are instances where third parties may have an interest in your high net worth divorce and may be able to follow those interests on the legal plane. When third parties have legal rights in your high net worth divorce, it becomes a third-party divorce.

Third parties that have the right to join a high net worth divorce

The most common types of third parties are as follows:

  • Third-party fathers

Typically, when children are born of the marriage, the spouse is considered that child's parent. But there are situations when this fact is disputed or is simply not true. For example, the wife might have had an extramarital affair, and the other person that is not the husband is indeed the child’s father.

Should a DNA test prove this essential element, the actual father of the child needs to be added to the divorce. The court can then divorce the spouses and turn to the biological father for custody and support issues.

  • Trustees

Each party will invariably bring in assets and debts when entering a marriage. One of these assets may be a trust. An irrevocable trust may be a point of contention if neither spouse is named trustee, but one of them argues that the other is, in fact, the trustee and the trust assets or income are marital property in some manner. Should the ownership come into question, the actual trustee may be added as a third party in the high net worth divorce resolution.

  • Interested business owners

A business started with an individual other than the spouse can be a topic of discussion during a high net worth divorce. Thus, the business or corporation can be added as a third party for the court to have jurisdiction over it. This also conveys the entity the ability to defend its interests. The other owners in the business or corporation also want to protect their investments.

  • Joint property owners

Divorcing partners can sometimes hold property jointly with parties different from their spouses. Joint property like bank or investments accounts, real estate, vehicles, antiques, and collectibles that are considered marital property, implies the third party needs to become involved in the divorce process. There are also situations when the property is held jointly with another party deliberately to keep it out of the divorce process.

Criteria for third parties joining a Florida high net worth divorce

Child custody and debt division are the most common situations where a third party may become involved in high net worth divorce proceedings. Still, third parties should only be added in a high net worth divorce if it is a matter of necessity:

  • when the court may lack jurisdiction to address matters regarding the division of property and debt
  • when the party joining is indispensable for determining the issue at hand
  • when the added party has a vested interest in the dissolution of the marriage
  • when your divorce may not be able to progress without this added party

A third party added to a high net worth divorce will have many of the same rights as the divorcing partners, such as:

  • calling for witness testimony
  • issue discovery
  • presenting evidence
  • taking depositions

High net worth divorce can become a contested legal proceeding when couples do not agree on one or several matters. Adding a third party to your divorce can have several benefits or downsides in delaying the overall marriage dissolution.

A competent Florida high net worth divorce attorney can clarify all complex situations involving third parties and assess which situations require them to join or if they will be brought into a divorce proceeding for jurisdiction purposes. Consider contacting The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary today and schedule a free appointment.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.