California Code of Civil Procedure 872.120 is the California partition statute that allows the court to have broad powers to effectuate its orders to ensure cooperation of the parties. The statute provides that:
In the conduct of the action, the court may hear and determine all motions, reports, and accounts and may make any decrees and orders necessary or incidental to carrying out the purposes of this title and to effectuating its decrees and orders.
California Code of Civil Procedure 872.120
Law Revision Commission Comments to California Code of Civil Procedure § 872.120
The Law Revision Comment explains that: “Section 872.120 is new. Generally, its purpose is to give the broadest possible statutory authorization for powers that the court, to a large extent, apparently already had. The succeeding sections of this article elaborate on, but do not exhaust, the court’s power in partition actions. While partition actions in California are a creature of statute (Capuccio v. Caire, 207 Cal. 200, 277 P. 475 (1929) ), they are nonetheless equitable in nature (Elbert, Ltd. v. Federated Income Properties, 120 Cal.App.2d 194, 261 P.2d 783 (1953) ), and the statutory provisions are to be liberally construed in aid of the court’s jurisdiction. See Sections 4 and 187.” California Code of Civil Procedure 872.120, 1976 Law Revision Comment.
As cited by the Law Revision Commission comment, Section 187 of the Code of Civil Procedure explains that: “When jurisdiction is, by the Constitution or this Code, or by any other statute, conferred on a Court or judicial officer, all the means necessary to carry it into effect are also given; and in the exercise of this jurisdiction, if the course of proceeding be not specifically pointed out by this Code or the statute, any suitable process or mode of proceeding may be adopted which may appear most conformable to the spirit of this Code.”
As also cited by the Law Revision Commission comment, Section 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides that: “The rule of the common law, that statutes in derogation thereof are to be strictly construed, has no application to this Code. The Code establishes the law of this State respecting the subjects to which it relates, and its provisions and all proceedings under it are to be liberally construed, with a view to effect its objects and to promote justice.”
Citing the Law Revision Comment, an unpublished case explained that: “A trial court may expressly reserve jurisdiction to act in the event the parties fail to comply with provisions of the judgment, but it need not do so, as Code of Civil Procedure section 872.120 (section 872.120) confers continuing jurisdiction by authorizing the court in a partition action to ‘hear and determine all motions, reports, and accounts and … make any decrees and orders necessary or incidental to carrying out the purposes of [section 872.010 et seq.] and to effectuating its decrees and orders.'”Zhang v. Li, No. B279399, 2019 WL 441936, at *3 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 5, 2019), reh’g denied (Feb. 25, 2019)
Another unpublished opinion found that “[t]his means that ‘[w]here equity has acquired jurisdiction for one purpose, it will retain that jurisdiction to the final adjustment of all differences between the parties arising from the causes of action alleged.’ (Klinker v. Klinker (1955) 132 Cal.App.2d 687, 694.)”Ide v. Spencer, No. C048657, 2006 WL 184249, at *7 (Cal. Ct. App. Jan. 26, 2006) The court went on to note that “the court in this case expressly reserved jurisdiction to act in the event the parties failed to comply with the provisions of the stipulation for entry of judgment and judgment….” Id.
Another unpublished case found “instructive case law discussing the special nature of partition, which, as a statutorily authorized equitable action, confers on the trial court broad discretion to fashion relief without being bound by strict rules of procedure.” Villicana v. Lindsay (Cal. Ct. App., Oct. 13, 2016, No. G052709) 2016 WL 6301218, at *4 (citing Richmond v. Dofflemyer (1980) 105 Cal.App.3d 745, 766).
A court of equity has “broad powers and comparatively unlimited discretion to do equity without being bound by any strict rules of procedure.” Richmond v. Dofflemyer (1980) 105 Cal.App.3d 745, 766.
Among the orders that the court can issue are restraining orders, including orders “Restraining unlawful interference with a partition of the property ordered by the court.”California Code of Civil Procedure 872.130
The bottom line is that courts have broad powers in partition actions to ensure that parties cooperate with the court, its orders, and any court-appointed referee.
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