Partition -What is it for and how do I get started?

Partition -What is it for and how do I get started?

When people come to share property, they do so with the expectation that they will share it equally and in good faith. Often this can be property purchased by marital couples, business partners, or even good friends who wish to own property and live together. But what happens if the people sharing this property can no longer get along and don’t want to share property together anymore? This is where partition is used.

Partition comes into play most often with shared real estate. Often times people will purchase a home together and put both their names on the title. When a relationship breaks down for whatever reason, it can often become a debate about who will be leaving the property and who will be keeping it. Understandably, when both parties have their name on the title, it can be a difficult question to answer as to who gets ownership of the property.  A complaint for partition is where a party comes before the Court and explains that jointly held real estate is in dispute and parties need the Court to rule on who will take ownership.

Upon the filing of the complaint, the Court will examine the filing and if it is established that the complainant has a ownership stake in the property, the court will either make a ruling on whether partition is necessary or, if they require more information, they will nominate a partition referee to examine the property and documents make a recommendation the Court of whether partition is necessary and if so, in what method should it be done.

In almost every situation, if the parties cannot agree as to how the property should be split and don’t want to continue to share it, the Court will rule that the property is to be sold and the proceeds are to be split amongst the parties evenly. It should be understood by joint owners of real estate that this is one of the only actions the Court can take in this matter and is usually the fairest method of handling the property in the Court’s eyes. If parties cannot agree as to who should take possession of the property or who will buy-out the other’s ownership interest, they should be aware that the Court will likely order the house sold to a third party rather than awarding it to either of the two original owners.

When the initial partition complaint is brought, it can be noted in the complaint if the plaintiff believes they are entitled to a greater percentage of ownership based on individual contributions and payments toward the shared property. Examples of this would be mortgage payments undertaken by a single owner, improvements or repairs made by a single owner, or a greater percentage of the initial purchase payment paid by a single owner. All of these and more can be considered by the Court when they make their determination. While it will likely not result in the Court awarding the property to one party over the other, or ordering a buy-out from one side, it will go towards the Court’s consideration of what percentage of the sale proceeds to award to a single party rather than the default 50/50 split.

If you have a property you share with someone and you feel that this property can no longer be shared evenly between you, consider contacting the Law Office of Andrew Szocka P.C. at 815-455-8430, by going on our website, or by emailing us at info@szocka.com. We have extensive experience in the realm of partition and would love to assist you with your matter!

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