To the extent necessary to grant the relief sought or other appropriate relief, the court shall upon adequate proof ascertain the state of the title to the property.
California Code of Civil Procedure 872.620
Stated simply, the relative titles and interests of the parties to an action for partition may be litigated and determined in the partition action.Morenhout v. Higuera (1867) 32 Cal. 289 Effectively, a partition lawsuit can incorporate the same conclusions found in a quiet title action.
Specifically, in a partition action, “[t]he interests of the parties, plaintiff as well as defendant, may be put in issue, tried, and determined in the action.”California Code of Civil Procedure 872.610 “The section makes clear that the court may resolve any title disputes in the course of the proceeding where placed in issue by answer of a defendant or cross-defendant.”California Code of Civil Procedure 872.610, Law Revision Comment
Equitable Title in Partition Actions
“Partition is an equitable action, and in the disposition thereof the trial court will determine the interests of all parties involved so as to effect a complete adjudication of the controversy and avoid a multiplicity of suits.”Elbert, Ltd. v. Clare (1953) 40 Cal.2d 498, 501 “In such [a partition] action the parties may assert any title they have, legal or equitable, and the court will decree what is equitable and proper.”Demetris v. Demetris (1954) 125 Cal. App. 2d 440, 445
The partition statutes make clear that: “The interests of the parties, plaintiff as well as defendant, may be put in issue, tried, and determined in the action.” Code Civ. Proc. § 872.610; see Determination of Interests, 12 Witkin, Summary 11th Real Prop (2022) § 70.
“An equitable interest is sufficient to support a partition action.” Powers v. Powers (1963) 221 Cal.App. 2d 746, 750; see Capuccio v. Caire (1922) 189 Cal. 514, 525–26 (“the legal or equitable owners of their respective interests in said real property,…were, … Continue reading Indeed, to avoid “litigation by piecemeal,” there is “no reason why the owner of the equitable title may not sue to establish his right, and when so established, if he is a tenant in common, ask for and have a partition of the common estate….” Watson v. Sutro (1890) 86 Cal. 500, 528–29.
Evidence Code section 662 provides that: “The owner of the legal title to property is presumed to be the owner of the full beneficial title. This presumption may be rebutted only by clear and convincing proof.” In turn, “Evidence Code section 662 has application, by its express terms, when there is no dispute as to where legal title resides but there is question as to where all or part of the beneficial title should rest.”Murray v. Murray (1994) 26 Cal.App.4th 1062, 1067; see Coyne v. De Leo (2018) 26 Cal.App.5th 801, 819
Even further, the clear and convincing evidence standard is extremely onerous for any party trying to overcome the title presumption in Evidence Code section 662. “‘The burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence ‘requires a finding of high probability. The evidence must be so clear as to leave no substantial doubt. It must be sufficiently strong to command the unhesitating assent of every reasonable mind.”Reed v. Gallagher (2016) 248 Cal.App.4th 841, 861–62 Continued, “California’s form of title presumption ‘is based on promoting the public policy in favor of the stability of titles to property,’ and ‘allegations that legal title does not represent beneficial ownership have been historically disfavored because society and the courts have a reluctance to tamper with duly executed instruments and documents of legal title.’” In re Fadel, 492 B.R. 1, 11 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2013) (applying California law)
Contact an Experienced Partition Attorney in California
If you want to end your co-ownership relationship, but your co-owner won’t agree, a partition action is your only option. Our experienced partition lawyers have years of experience ending co-ownership disputes and can help you unlock the equity in your property. For a free, 15-minute consultation with an experienced partition attorney at Talkov Law, call (844) 4-TALKOV (825568) or fill out a contact form online.
|↑1||Morenhout v. Higuera (1867) 32 Cal. 289|
|↑2||California Code of Civil Procedure 872.610|
|↑3||California Code of Civil Procedure 872.610, Law Revision Comment|
|↑4||Elbert, Ltd. v. Clare (1953) 40 Cal.2d 498, 501|
|↑5||Demetris v. Demetris (1954) 125 Cal. App. 2d 440, 445|
|↑6||Code Civ. Proc. § 872.610; see Determination of Interests, 12 Witkin, Summary 11th Real Prop (2022) § 70.|
|↑7||Powers v. Powers (1963) 221 Cal.App. 2d 746, 750; see Capuccio v. Caire (1922) 189 Cal. 514, 525–26 (“the legal or equitable owners of their respective interests in said real property,…were, therefore, entitled to institute and maintain this action for the partition of said real property”); Demetris v. Demetris (1954) 125 Cal.App. 2d 440, 445 (“In such action the parties may assert any title they have, legal or equitable, and the court will decree what is equitable and proper”); Murphy v. Crowley (1903) 140 Cal. 141, 145 (“The owner of an equitable title is the owner of real property, and may maintain an action to establish his equitable right, and in the same action obtain a partition of the real property to which he claims a complete title in equity.”); Luco v. De Toro (1981) 91 Cal. 405 (“in this action for a partition there can be no doubt that the parties may assert any title which they have, legal or equitable”).|
|↑8||Watson v. Sutro (1890) 86 Cal. 500, 528–29.|
|↑9||Murray v. Murray (1994) 26 Cal.App.4th 1062, 1067; see Coyne v. De Leo (2018) 26 Cal.App.5th 801, 819|
|↑10||Reed v. Gallagher (2016) 248 Cal.App.4th 841, 861–62|
|↑11||In re Fadel, 492 B.R. 1, 11 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2013) (applying California law)|