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Why Do Courts Allow Partition Actions?

Courts allow partition actions in California as a legal remedy to resolve co-ownership disputes. In a partition action, the co-owned property is either divided or sold with each co-owner receiving their equitable interest. Some co-owners wonder if a judge can really force the sale of a property they have lived in for years. Further, some question the ethics and public policy reasoning behind partition actions. The truth is that California courts have established that the right to partition is absolute based on several important reasons, explained below.

Partition Actions are Favored at Law

The often-quoted principle is that: “Partition is a remedy much favored by the law. The original purpose of partition was to permit cotenants to avoid the inconvenience and dissension arising from sharing joint possession of land. An additional reason to favor partition is the policy of facilitating transmission of title, thereby avoiding unreasonable restraints on the use and enjoyment of property.” LEG Investments v. Boxler (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 484, 493.

Indeed, California courts have expressly stated that: “The policy behind a partition action is to permanently end all disputes about property and to remove all obstructions to its free enjoyment.” LEG Investments v. Boxler (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 484, 497.

Resolution of Disputes by Partition Actions

A partition action can definitively end co-ownership disputes. Once the property is sold, feuding co-owners can take their portion of the profits of the partition sale and move on with their lives – separately. Relationships may even improve once parties no longer have to own property together. Perhaps a parent and child will restore their ordinary relationship untethered to the disputes over the co-owned property. In the rare cases involving a partition in-kind, co-owners will no longer be forced to share property, but will instead have separate boundary lines.

Free Alienability of Property via Partition Actions

Alienability of property is the ability to voluntarily convey property to another. “The law generally favors free alienability of property.” Kendall v. Ernest Pestana, Inc. (1985) 40 Cal.3d 488, 494. When there are multiple owners of property, it can be difficult for all co-owners to agree on how to use the property, including when to sell the property to a completely different owner.

If one co-owner refuses to sell a property, this affects the free alienability of the rest of the co-owners. A partition action helps restore balance by giving the co-owners who want to get rid of their interest in the property a chance to do so. Many times, partitions result in the existing co-owners agreeing to buy out their co-owner.

Protecting Minority Interests in Partition Actions

Imagine a property owned by parents is passed down to their four children. Each of these four children passes their interests down to their four children. Now, this property is owned by 16 different co-owners, perhaps each owning 6.25% (1/16th). To make these even worse, suppose 15 of the 16 co-owners agree that the property should remain a family home, but the 16th co-owner already moved out of state, simply desiring to receive their 1/16th value in money so they can move on with their lives.

Minority ownership interests would presumably only get worse as the property continues to be passed down. A partition action allows co-owners with even a small interest in the property to get out of the co-ownership relationship and receive their equity in the property, even if their co-owners are entirely uncooperative. A partition action gives minority co-owners the ability to benefit from property that they co-own. This protection of minority interests is why there is no majority rule in co-ownership, and no rule that a co-owner must hold a particular percentage interest in the property to file a partition action. Code Civ. Proc. 872.210.

Contact Talkov Law’s Dedicated Partition Attorneys

Courts have established time and time again that partition is an equitable remedy that can benefit co-owners of real estate who disagree on how to use the property. Hiring a partition lawyer with experience handling over 260 partition actions throughout California can help you receive the best possible outcome in your partition lawsuit. Most importantly, our attorneys can ensure that the co-ownership is terminated as promptly as possible. Contact Talkov Law, California’s #1 partition action law firm, today at (844) 4-TALKOV (825568) or contact us online for a free, 15-minute consultation.

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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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