You, Your Spouse, and…. (3rd Parties Joined to Divorce Actions)

Most people are aware that in Divorce or Domestic Partnership Dissolution, certain employee benefit plans can be joined to the action to ensure that retirement accounts are divided prior to the completion of the case. However, there are additional ‘joinder provisions’ in the Family Code that provide for ‘interested parties’ to be joined to a case in certain situations. While not commonly utilized, joinder provisions can be crucial to protecting rights and/or limiting a spouse’s exposure in divorce. Once joined, the third person effectively becomes a party to the case.

When might a party have a recognizable interest in a marital action?

Interest claimed in marital property: If third persons hold title to or otherwise claim an interest in real or personal property that is subject to disposition in the proceeding, the court may join such persons to the action. The court may also join a third party if they are necessary to the enforcement of an issue. Examples? (1) Say Husband has an affair during the marriage and lavishes his girlfriend with gifts paid for with Wife (or Husband’s) earnings during the marriage. Wife might seek to join girlfriend to the action. (2) Wife and her business partner own 30% of a corporation. That 30% is community property and the corporation may need to be joined to the action to ensure its interests are protected and/or Husband receives his equity share in the asset.

There are several other cases when a party might have recognizable interest in a marital action. Sign up for a free subscription to read on.

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