Partition of Jointly Owned Real Estate

Sometimes people own land together and would like to divide it but one or more of the owners stands in the way. There is a legal proceeding to solve this problem. It's called a "Partition Suit" and the purpose of it is to "partition" the real estate; that is, divide it up among the joint owners according to their individual ownership interests.

When people own property jointly they own what the law calls an "undivided" interest in the whole. Let's say you and your brother own 40 acres of farmland. Each of you owns 50%. While it's true that each of you owns one-half of the property it is impossible for either of you to say which half is your half. That is because, under the law, each joint owner as a right to possess the whole. So of you and your brother both want to farm the land, each of you can farm half of it — but he can take his half anywhere he wants.

Sound confusing? For many people, it is. That's where the partition suit comes in: the purpose of a partition suit is to divide up the land so that each joint owner now owns a particular piece of property all to himself — and not just a partial interest in the larger piece of property as a whole.

In a partition suit the court appoints what is called a commissioner to determine whether the land can be "divvied up" between the joint owners. If this is not possible (due to the configuration of the land, or the fact that part is tillable and part is not, for example) the court will order that the land be sold and the proceeds from the sale be distributed to the joint owners according to the amount of their legal interest in the property.

Sometimes parents want to give their real estate to all their children — no matter how many that may be. This situation may later lead to a partition suit — because some of the children want to sell and others don't.

If you are in a situation with a joint owner who won't cooperate in dividing up or selling the property, call our firm today to schedule a consultation.