What Are Third-Party Divorces?

What Are Third-Party Divorces? A marriage is between two people who thought they would be spending their lives together. When the marriage is no longer working out, it is time to file for divorce. A divorce is a complex matter, especially when you add children into the mix. The process can become even more convoluted when you add a third party.

While not a common scenario, third parties may have an interest in your divorce and may be able to pursue those interests on a legal sphere. This third party has legal rights, too. When your divorce is no longer just between you and your spouse, it becomes a third-party divorce.

What third parties can join a divorce?

Debt division and child custody are the most common reasons a third party may become involved in divorce proceedings. This can be mandated by the court for jurisdiction purposes and without this added party, your divorce may not be able to move forward. It is essential to be aware of this possibility and discuss your options with a San Antonio third party divorce attorney.

 Who are common third parties in a divorce proceeding? There are a few parties that may enter a divorce proceeding for a range of reasons. They will typically have a vested interest in the dissolution of the marriage. The most common types of parties are:

Third-party fathers

Child support and custody matters are complex. It is assumed that the husband in a marriage is the father of a child. However, if the wife became pregnant with another person’s child, the biological father will need to be added to the divorce. Paternity must be determined through a DNA test. Once this has been proven the biological father will be added to the divorce as a third party to settle child support and child custody. This will make it easier to separate the issue from the rest of the divorce proceedings.


When entering a marriage, there are certain assets and debts that are brought in from each party. One of those assets may be a trust. A trustee may be added as a third party if the trust ownership has come into question. This may be a point of contention if there is an irrevocable trust where neither of the spouses is the named trustee, but one spouse argues that the other spouse is in fact the trustee. This will require the actual trustee to be added to the divorce proceedings.

Business interests

There are plenty of business owners all across the country and while a person may have started a business without their spouse, it can still be a topic of discussion during a divorce. This may require the business or corporation to be added as a third party so that the court can have jurisdiction over it. The business will also be able to act individually and defend its interest during a divorce.

Even if one spouse is part owner, other owners want to protect their investment as well – and it is essential that they be able to do so. After all, their business interest is separate from a divorcing couple’s interests. They have paid their dues to make the company or business what it is and should be able to protect their hard work regardless of their business partner’s personal matters.

People with whom they jointly own property

Some couples own properties or assets with other people, like vacation homes. A third party may need to be added if there is a property that is jointly held between all parties.

When a property is held jointly with another party intentionally, it can be done so to shield it from the divorce process. This means the other party will need to be involved in the divorce process. The third party will be taken into account if the other spouse alleges that this property is or should be considered marital property. A San Antonio divorce attorney will be able to decipher whether this property should be brought into a divorce proceeding.

Criteria for joining as a third party

There are two factors that should be considered when attempting to enter a third party divorce:

  • Is the party joining indispensable to a determination of the issue at hand?
  • Is it appropriate to add this party in order to determine an issue?

Joining a third party into a divorce should be taken lightly. Third parties should only be added when it is absolutely necessary.

A third party’s rights in a San Antonio divorce

A third party that is added to a divorce will have many of the same rights as the divorcing couple. They will be able to call for witness testimony, issue discovery, present evidence, and take depositions. Adding a third party to your divorce can be beneficial in some ways. For example, if you and your spouse wish to sell a property owned between you and another couple, that other couple can enter as a third party and seek to purchase the property. In some cases, however, third-parties can delay the divorce overall. The longer a divorce takes, the more costly it can become. They can also “muddy the waters” for custody if, for example, one or both sets of grandparents seek visitation rights. While you may want to avoid adding a third party, some cases will require it for jurisdiction purposes.

If you are going through a divorce of any kind, it is important to have a San Antonio divorce attorney to fight for your rights. Call the office of Grable Grimshaw PLLC at 210-761-5687, or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment.