Should I Tell My Co-owner That I Am Suing Them for Partition?

Generally, no, it is not best to informally notify your co-owner that you have hired an attorney to file a lawsuit for partition of the co-owned real property.

The general reason that co-owners ask if they should inform their co-owners that they are filing for partition is some perceived moral obligation to provide informal notice in advance of the process server arriving with the papers to meet the legal requirements of due process. However, obtaining that peace of mind that you gave your co-owner one last chance will come at a price.

Service of Process

First, by tipping off your co-owner, you will make service of process harder. The partition statutes require, generally, that the partition complaint, summons and related papers be handed to each defendant or provided to an adult who resides at their residence or place of business, also known as personal service or substitute service. California Code of Civil Procedure 872.310. The most common tactic used by defendants is simply to delay the inevitable interlocutory judgment of partition by sale under Code of Civil Procedure § 872.720. Delays in service cost the defendant almost nothing as they simply don’t answer the door, and leave only when the process server is not outside. In turn, this can increase the cost to a plaintiff.

Potential Source of Litigation

Second, whatever the co-owner says when informing the future defendant of the partition will be a source of litigation. Just as police officers inform defendants of their Miranda rights, partition attorneys should inform their plaintiffs that “whatever you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Any innocent statement made while informing the future defendant that a partition action is being filed could be twisted and turned into something that the plaintiff never intended. Such a misunderstanding by the defendant or their attorney will only exacerbate the legal fees and delay the partition action.

The better tactic is to soften the blow of the partition action by including a cover letter warning of partition. The letter can present options for a sale or refinance and its tone can be as nice as the plaintiff wishes. Since that letter will be on the lawyer’s letterhead, and is carefully written by a partition attorney, it would normally not be debated. Otherwise, such a letter written by a non-attorney may cause issues down the road, including increased partition attorney’s fees by having to be evaluated by an attorney later on or even potentially whether it constituted a waiver of partition, for example.

This article assumes that the co-owners have already talked, exchanged letters, or sent text messages, but have not reached an agreement. Otherwise, it is unlikely that a co-owner would be reading this article.

The natural next step if you’re looking to end your co-ownership relationship, but can’t reach an agreement with your co-owner, is to reach out to California’s #1 team of partition lawyers at Talkov Law. We have developed tactics to end partition actions quickly and at a reasonable cost. With over 300 partition actions handled throughout California, our attorneys are highly skilled in the area of partition law. Contact Talkov Law today at (844) 4-TALKOV (825568) or fill out an online inquiry form.

About Scott Talkov

Scott Talkov is a partition lawyer in California. He founded Talkov Law Corp. after more than one decade of experience at a California real estate litigation firm, where he served as one of the firm's partners. He has been featured on ABC 7, CNN, KCBS, and KCAL-9, and in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Press-Enterprise, and in Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine. Scott has been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star for 9 consecutive years. He can be reached about new matters at info@talkovlaw.com or (844) 4-TALKOV (825568). He can also be contacted directly at scott@talkovlaw.com.

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