Florida Court Discusses Third-Party Rights in Divorce Proceedings

Typically, divorce actions and equitable distribution claims only involve two people. In some cases, though, other parties will have an interest in assets that may be subject to equitable distribution and therefore may intervene in dissolution proceedings. Recently, a Florida court evaluated a third party’s right to challenge a ruling issued in a divorce case, in a matter in which the husband’s mother sought to disqualify the wife’s forensic accountant. If you have questions regarding how your assets may be divided in a divorce, it is smart to speak to a Miami divorce attorney.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the wife filed a petition for dissolution in 2019. Two years prior to filing for divorce, the husband’s mother was involved in commercial litigation relating to entities that she owned. As part of that action, she hired a forensic accountant. The matter was ultimately resolved via a confidential settlement agreement. Subsequently, the wife retained the same forensic accountant to opine as an expert in the dissolution proceedings. The husband’s mother then filed a motion asking the court to disqualify the accountant and a motion to stay the divorce proceedings while the motion to disqualify was pending. The court denied the husband’s mother’s motion to stay, after which she filed a petition for certiorari review.

Third-Party Rights in Divorce Proceedings

On appeal, the appellate court denied the husband’s mother’s petition. In doing so, it noted that in order to be entitled to certiorari relief, a party must demonstrate that a trial court’s order departed from the essential requirements of the law in a manner that will lead to irreparable harm. The appellate court explained that a departure from the critical requirements of the law means that a violation of a clearly established legal principle has occurred, resulting in the miscarriage of justice.

Regarding the subject case, the appellate court explained that while granting a stay of proceedings while the issue of whether the wife’s expert should be disqualified was pending may be prudent for case management purposes, the husband’s mother had not cited to any rule, statute, case law, or any other source that required the court to stay matters until the disqualification motion was resolved. Additionally, the appellate court explained that it was not aware of any such law that would compel it to do so. As the husband’s mother had not identified a clearly established principle of law that the trial court departed from, the appellate court had no basis for granting the husband’s mother’s petition. Thus, it was denied.

Meet with a Trusted Miami Attorney

When a couple with substantial assets divorces, parties outside of their marriage may have an interest in how their property is divided. If you intend to end your marriage, it is advisable to speak to an attorney to determine how the decision could impact your finances. The trusted Miami divorce attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., are adept at handling complex divorce matters, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly to help you protect your interests. Our office is in Aventura, and we frequently represent parties in divorce actions in Miami. You can reach us via our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.

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