Helping Property Co-Owners Resolve Disputes

Joint ownership of a single property is a fairly common occurrence, especially in a joint investment or estate planning. However, co-owner disputes can arise when owners disagree about what to do with the property. When one owner wants to sell but the other wants to keep the property, individuals can settle disputes with a partition action.

Pursuing a partition action can help you divide up your property in an equitable way to settle disputes between co-owners. In some cases, a partition lawsuit is the best way to do what you want with your property while either maintaining ownership or getting paid.

If you would like to file a partition lawsuit or you want to defend against a partition action, our team of attorneys can help you. We will walk you through your entire case until you get the outcome you deserve. For more information and to receive a consultation, call Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC today at 540-386-1277.

What is a Partition Action?

A partition action is a legal action taken by the court to divide interest in a real property. A partition action is only taken when co-owners of a property cannot agree on what to do with the property in question. In most cases, one party wants to sell while the other party does not.

Everyone with equity in a property deserves to have their opinion heard. However, issues can arise when co-owners cannot agree on how to move forward. If you are in a stalemate with your co-owner, you have the right to file a partition action and divide your property.

A partition action is technically a civil lawsuit brought against the owner or owners who do not wish to sell the property. A judge will use information from both sides to reach a decision about the case. The judge can rule in favor of the owners who want to keep the property, or they can rule in favor of dividing the property through a partition action.

What Are Virginia’s Partition Laws?

Virginia’s partition laws set the framework for how a partition lawsuit can be brought forward. Under Virginia Code 8.01-81, any co-owner of a property has the right to file a partition lawsuit. The lawsuit can request a sale of the property or a division of the property. The court can order a physical division of the property or the sale of the property. The court will examine certain factors like the property value, the nature of the property, and the interests of the owners before making a decision.

Virginia law also states the following about partition lawsuits:

  • Virginia Code Section 8.01-83: One party can seek to obtain ownership of the property through allotment. If the allotment is not achievable, that party can seek a sale of the property instead.
  • Virginia Code Section 8.01-84: If any lien creditors have an interest in the property, the sale proceeds can be used to satisfy those liens.
  • Virginia Code Section 8.01-81.1: The valuation process must be followed to establish the property’s actual value before selling.

What Are the Most Common Kinds of Partition Actions?

Because real estate varies so widely in the types of properties and interests of owners, the court has three main resolutions it can use to resolve a partition lawsuit. The court will examine these partition actions to determine which suits your needs best.
The types of partition actions include:

Partition in Kind

A partition in kind orders the parties involved to split up the property physically. Most real estate is impossible to divide this way; however, a partition in kind may be relevant to empty land. The land will be split into equitable portions and given to each owner. All owners will receive a piece of the property that has the same value.

Partition by Sale

If real estate cannot be physically divided, divisions between owners will happen via sale. The court will order the property to be sold, and the proceeds will be divided among the owners. All owners will receive a portion of the sale relative to their interest in the property.

Partition by Appraisal

If at least one party is willing to maintain ownership over the property, the court may order a partition by appraisal. The owner who would like to retain ownership will pay the other owners for their shares. The court will assign a neutral third-party appraiser to value the property. This value will serve as the official price that must be paid.

Who Can Seek a Partition Action?

Anyone who shares ownership of a property can file a partition suit. Partition is a legal right, and even co-owners of a property that is subject to an easement, lien, or lease can seek a partition action. Additional entities may complicate the process, but partition action is a right, not a privilege.
Partition suits are often brought forward when two or more people inherit property through a last will and testament. Under the law, both children have equitable interest and ownership over the property. If both children would like to sell the home and split their earnings, they can. If both children want to rent the home to tenants, they can do that instead.
However, many heirs do not agree on how to handle a property that they inherited. If one party wants to sell the home but the other one wants to keep it, it’s impossible to move forward with either option. Either party could then pursue a partition lawsuit to fight for what they want to do with the property.

How Do You Seek a Partition Action?

If you would like to file a partition lawsuit, the first step is to contact an attorney on our team. We will guide you through the process and help you file your paperwork correctly and without mistakes.
Before going to court, notice of the partition suit must be given to all co-owners and anyone who has an interest in the property, like lien creditors. Then, a fair market value must be determined by a formal appraisal or an agreement with the co-owners.
Once the lawsuit has been filed, our team will schedule your hearing with the court. There may be multiple hearings throughout the process, each with its own timeline and requirements.
If the property cannot be divided and the court orders a partition by sale, the property will then be sold. Selling a property can take multiple months, depending on the real estate market.

Can You Fight a Partition Action?

In some cases, co-owners receive notice of a partition lawsuit that they would like to oppose. Although fighting a partition lawsuit may be difficult, it is not impossible with help from our legal team.
We can show the court that you stand to suffer financial damages if the partition action is upheld. Damages can include costs assumed above your shareholder agreement, taxes paid, and more. If the court agrees with your damage calculations, you could seek reimbursement by filing a countersuit against your co-owner.
Facing a partition lawsuit that you disagree with can be frustrating. If you’d like to protect your rights and uphold your interests, our legal team can help. Reach out to our attorneys today to learn more.

How Long Does a Partition Action Take?

Because partition actions must go through the court, they can be time-consuming. Many cases will take between one and two years to resolve fully. The complexity of the case, including any bureaucratic obstacles and court scheduling, can elongate the process.
The best way to resolve a partition lawsuit quickly is by working with an experienced law firm. Our attorneys will walk you through the entire process to ensure there are no delays with your suit. If you would like to expedite your partition lawsuit and protect your interests, contact an attorney on our team today.

Is There a Way to Avoid Litigation?

When co-owners are in a stalemate, court proceedings might seem inevitable. However, there are some options that our team can help you explore to save you time and money.
If you’d like to avoid litigation, you can try the following:

  • Negotiations. Sometimes, negotiating using legal representation gives you a better outcome than trying to appease your co-owner’s interests on your own. Our legal team can meet with you, your co-owner, and your co-owner’s legal representative to discuss the property in question and whether a solution can be reached.
  • Mediation. Similar to negotiation, mediation involves talking to the other party using a neutral third party. This neutral third party will moderate the conversation and help keep things civil. Our team can accompany you to a mediation meeting to ensure your concerns are heard.
  • Avoiding litigation is a goal for many. Spending hours in court costs both time and money, which can be stressful. Contact our team today if you and your co-owners need assistance finding a solution.

    What Does a Partition Lawyer Do?

    When considering filing a partition lawsuit, working with experienced partition lawyers is the best way to get the outcome you deserve. Our legal team has years of experience working with property owners, and we are confident that we can protect your rights in and out of court.
    As your legal representatives, we will take the following steps in your case:

    File All Legal Paperwork

    Pursuing a lawsuit involves extensive paperwork that must be filed correctly and on time. Our team will handle all the legal documentation for you, ensuring that you can pursue a lawsuit quickly.

    Gather Documentation

    Documents relating to ownership of the property are essential when pursuing a partition suit. Grant deeds and trust deeds can also be helpful when presenting to the court. Our team will gather these documents along with title reports, claims to ownership, liens against the home, and anything else that could help bolster your case.

    Negotiate With Your Co-Owners

    In some cases, simply having a lawyer on your side when talking to your co-owner is enough to reach a decision. Our team can meet with the co-owners of your property to determine if we can reach a solution outside of court.

    Represent You in Court

    When a lawsuit goes to trial, the judge will need to hear your side of the story. Our attorneys will represent you in court, presenting documentation and evidence to bolster your case.

    Can a Partition Attorney Help Me?

    Working with co-owners when you do not agree on the future of your property is challenging. A partition lawsuit can divide your property evenly to ensure no one is taken advantage of. The partition suit process is long and involves extensive legal paperwork that must be filed correctly and within a certain timeframe.
    A partition attorney on our team will pursue a partition suit on your behalf, ensuring that your interests are protected and that your voice is heard during court proceedings. For more information about our team, contact Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC, by calling 540-386-1277.


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