Ariana Madix vs. Tom Sandoval – Partition Lawyer Analysis

On Janaury 5, 2024, news broke that reality star Ariana Madix had filed a complaint for partition by sale against long-term (ex) boyfriend Tom Sandoval.

The Vanderpump Rules couple owns a Los Angeles house together, but split in 2023 when it was revealed that Tom had been having an affair with their castmate Raquel Leviss. The scandal, known as “Scandoval”, set the internet ablaze. In a tumultuous time for both the reality stars and viewers alike, one thing remained the same: the ex-couple continued to live together in their co-owned house. This situation is one of the most common reasons that people file a partition action, and it seems as though TV stars are not immune.

With over 260 partition actions throughout California, the experienced attorneys at Talkov Law have handled more partitions than any firm in this state and will break down what they predict will happen with Madix’s complaint for partition against Sandoval.

What Does the Complaint Say?

Madix’s complaint for partition (attached below) alleges that the property is co-owned and requests that the property be sold instead of divided in kind. A partition in kind only applies when a property can be equitably physically divided between parties, which is rarely the case with a single-family residence such as Madix and Sandoval’s home. Zillow estimates the property at 5155 Bellaire Avenue, Valley Village, California 91607 to be worth $2.7m.

Madix goes on to explain that in addition to a partition in kind being “impracticable,” it would also “diminish the value of each owner’s interest in the property” and that “title issues render a division in kind virtually impossible.”

The complaint was filed in Los Angeles County at the North Central – Burbank Courthouse, the proper venue for a partition action since Madix and Sandoval’s co-owned home is located in Los Angeles County.

Madix states that both herself and Sandoval are joint tenants of the property. Joint tenancy in California “requires unity of interest, unity of title, unity of time, and unity of possession.” McDonald v. Morley (1940) 15 Cal. 2d 409, 412. In other words, all joint tenants must own equal interests that were acquired by the same instrument at the same time. A joint tenancy also contains a powerful “right of survivorship,” meaning that a joint tenant who passes away will automatically pass on their interest in the property to the remaining joint tenants.

What are the Likely Outcomes of the Lawsuit?

There are rarely any defenses to a partition action, with one exception: The Partition of Real Property Act. Under the Act, Sandoval would be entitled to buy out Madix at an appraised value. This would be particularly important if Sandoval wants to keep the mortgage obtained back in 2021, which is at a lower interest rate than is currently available. He would need to finance that purchase with a second mortgage or cash, if he has it, to pay off Madix for her equity in the property. After he is served, Sandoval will have 30 days to file an answer to the partition complaint.

How common is a partition action like Madix and Sandoval?

While the forced sale of a house after a divorce is all too familiar to the public, unmarried couples are about 40% of the many thousands of partition actions each year in California. Of those unmarried couples breaking up, many of those cases involve cheating, like Madix and Sandoval, while others involve a failure to marry after an engagement. Others involve a couple where one was hoping to become engaged, but the proposal never occured. Yet other partition actions involve couples where the relationship simply fizzled out. Much like Madix and Sandoval, many of these co-ownership disputes arise within a year or two of the purchase of the joint home. In fact, virtually all partition actions involve the no written agreement between the co-owners, allowing California’s default partition laws to be applied. Generally, these default rules are less expensive and less time consuming to implement than partitions involving custom drafted agreements that failed to consider the facts that eventually arose between the parties. The other common use of partition actions is to force the sale of inherited properties left equally to siblings where one of the co-owners won’t agree to sell or buyout the other co-owner at a reasonable price.

How long will the Madix v. Sandoval partition last?

As to how long the partition action will take, chances are that it will be over within a year. The action could go faster if the plaintiff’s counsel is skilled in bringing these disputes to an end. However, cases can last longer if the facts give rise to unexpected results under the law, such as arguments over whether partition offsets are allowed due to gifting or if the records of the payments made by each party are missing or unclear. Sometimes, the psychological inability of the defendant to move on the house can make the case last longer than it should.

The Complaint for Partition in Ariana Madix vs. Tom Sandoval

Talkov Law Partition Attorneys

Partitions are not just for the rich and famous. Rather, Talkov Law has helped hundreds of siblings, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-fiances, and many others split up their California real estate. If you need help, contact us online or give us a call at (844) 4-TALKOV (825568) for a free consultation with California’s most experienced Partition Lawyer, Scott Talkov.

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The partition attorneys at Talkov Law end co-ownership disputes by representing co-owners in real estate partition actions throughout the State of California.

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