Family law disputes involving third parties as well as the separating spouses
Hemming+Hart has long been recognised as a commercial law firm. We are regularly instructed to act for our corporate clients when their company or business has been issued with a subpoena or third party disclosure notice. We also act for these companies and businesses when they are joined or seek to be joined as a party to a litigation commenced in the Family Law Courts (where such litigation involves a property dispute between separating spouses) to protect the assets of the company including intangible assets like the company's confidential information. We also regularly act for these entities early in the dispute to try and prevent them from being involved in the dispute between separating spouses.
Sometimes the third party drawn into a family law dispute can be a family member of either separating spouse. This can happen where:
- assets are owned jointly by a separating spouse and other family members;
- there is a dispute about whether money from a family member was a gift or loan;
- assets are owned in family trusts;
- assets are owned in companies or unit trusts and the separating spouse owns shares or units, often as a minority shareholder or unitholder; and
- Declarations or Injunctions are sought against family members of separating spouses.
Also, sometimes grandparents, aunts, uncles and adult half or step-siblings can be joined to a dispute concerning arrangements for children.
New partners of separating spouses can also be joined to proceedings between separating spouses in some circumstances.
The Family Law Courts have wide powers to make orders binding third parties in property and parenting matters. Much can be done, in the early stages, to avoid companies, businesses, family members and new partners from having to be joined to family law proceedings and therefore having to hire their own lawyer to protect their rights. It is usually crucial to act early and obtain specialist advice.