Do I Need to Go to Court to Win Partition of Co-owned Property?

Los Angeles real estate attorney Laine Wganeseller

Because real estate is often so expensive, and because real estate parcels are regularly gifted to or inherited by multiple parties, it is not uncommon for real estate to be jointly owned by two or more parties as tenants in common. And, given the shifting financial and geographical goals and needs of different individuals, it is also not uncommon for there to come a time when at least one of those parties wants to change this arrangement of co-owning the entirety of the property.

It could be that one party wants one portion of the property solely to himself or herself without the difficulties of co-ownership, but in most cases the situation is that one party either needs or the funds corresponding with his or her ownership interest in the property, or simply does not want the hassle or obligation of co-ownership of a property that may be thousands of miles away from his or her current residence. In such cases, partition is the appropriate legal remedy for these parties. And while working with an experienced real estate attorney to negotiate and execute the partition is highly recommended, it may not be necessary to go to court to win the results associated with a partition lawsuit.

What a Partition Lawsuit Entails

In a partition lawsuit, one party must go to court and request that a judge issue an interlocutory judgment which officially orders that partition should occur. Most co-owners have a right to partition (unless the right has been waived), and thus the interlocutory judgment in and of itself is not difficult to obtain.

What comes next, however, is more complicated and costly. If the person seeking partition wants to divide the land, the court must appoint a referee to oversee the process to ensure that it is done fairly in light of the co-owners’ proportionate interests. This can involve lengthy battles over the relative values of portions of the property (with the referee charging expensive hourly fees in addition to the attorney fees associated with litigation).

If the person seeking partition, however, is seeking a sale of the property and division of the proceeds, this can be relatively easier, as it is easier to fairly divide dollars and cents than property, but will still involve the process of a court-overseen auction process.

Reaching the Goals of Partition Without a Lawsuit

If both parties are reasonable and willing to work with each other, the results of a partition lawsuit can be reached without litigation. Much in the same way family law attorneys might reach a settlement divorce agreement outside of court in light of state divorce law, a real estate attorney can negotiate a partition agreement outside of court based on the principles and rights the parties have under state law.

When both parties are fully made aware of the likely outcomes of a partition lawsuit – and keeping in mind that in most cases partition is a right that is not in question – they can proceed towards a mutually beneficial outcome without incurring the added costs associated with a complex partition lawsuit.

Contact the Real Estate Litigation Attorneys at Wagenseller Law Firm

At Wagenseller Law Firm in downtown Los Angeles, we provide full legal services to individuals and businesses in business and real estate litigation matters. Contact Wagenseller Law Firm today to schedule a consultation to discuss your real estate matter.