Charlottesville Partition Attorney
Many times, real property is jointly or commonly owned by more than one party. If the joint property owners are in a relationship, whether by marriage, family, friendship, business ventures or partnerships, and the relationship develops friction or ultimately dissolves, the co-owners may find themselves in disagreement as to the particularities of the jointly owned property. Additionally, through an inheritance, you could yourself sharing ownership of property with another person, and you may find yourself at odds with his or her desires for the property.
In a best case scenario, any dispute or disagreements between landowners could be settled through discussions and negotiations. Reaching a settlement with the other parties on how to manage the property or divide the property or the proceeds from any sale will usually save time, money, and stress.
If the joint property owners cannot agree on what to do with their real estate, however, they may have to turn to the courts. In Virginia, any joint owner of real estate can file a partition suit in the jurisdiction where the property is located. In a partition action, the court is asked to divide the property among its owners. If the property can be divided equally between the parties (called a partition in kind), the court will take the steps necessary to complete that division. When the property cannot be divided, however – such as, for instance, when the property is a house – the court can order the property to be sold and the proceeds distributed among the owners. This is known as a partition by sale.
A partition suit may be brought by a person who owns certain partial interests in property. For example, a tenant in common, joint tenant, executor with the power to sell real property, or a lien creditor may be able to bring a lawsuit for partition. The precise nature of property interests is a complex subject and necessitates a thorough review of title by an experienced real estate attorney.
Once the partition suit is filed, any of the joint owners who desires and is able to purchase the property will be given the opportunity to do so at a price agreed upon with the other joint owners or set by the court. If none of the owners wants to buy the property, and the property cannot be fairly divided among the joint owners, the court will appoint a special commissioner to sell the property.
Typically, the commissioner will work through a real estate agent to market and sell the property. The property can alternatively be sold at public auction, through private contract, or another method at the Special Commissioner’s own choosing. Once the property is sold and the sale expenses are accounted for, the remaining proceeds will be distributed among the property owners according to their ownership interests.
A partition lawsuit may also be appropriate where all of the property owners are unknown or cannot be located. In such a situation, a partition suit may be the only available method to clear title and force sale. If any of the joint owners are unknown or missing, a Virginia Partition attorney handling the matter can proceed with an Order of Publication to ensure that all potential co-owners are subject to the court’s final Partition Order.
If you or someone you know is involved in a dispute with a joint property owner or you simply wish to sell your property ownership interest, contact the Charlottesville Partition attorneys at MartinWren, P.C. We have experience in successfully negotiating resolutions among opposing parties and joint owners of real estate. And absent a resolution, we can effectively litigate partition suits. Please contact John B. Simpson at (434) 817-3100 for more information.