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The Ultimate Guide to Partition: Securing Property Rights & Legal Solutions


Partition is a legal remedy for dividing property among co-owners. It is a formal legal solution that resolves conflicts over how each joint owner wants to use, manage, or sell the property. 

Partition is a complex process that requires professional legal guidance. Parties should understand the different types of partitions, the process, and how a partition attorney can help them protect their property rights. 

What is Partition?

Partition is used to divide or separate property among joint owners. There are two main types of partition: partition in kind and partition by sale. In partition in kind, the property is physically divided among co-owners; each owner receives an ownership percentage. 

On the other hand, in partition by sale, the property is sold. The court may order a public auction or private sale, and the proceeds are distributed among co-owners according to their investments in the property.

Additionally, partition in kind is usually preferred when the property can be easily divided into distinct portions, such as a large piece of land or a building with multiple units. On the other hand, partition by sale is used when it is not practical to divide the property physically, such as in the case of a single-family home. 

Consider the following situations in which joint owners may want or need to partition the property:

  • Joint owners disagree on how to use, maintain, or repair the property.
  • Joint owners have different or conflicting financial needs or goals.
  • Joint owners cannot agree on selling or transferring property ownership.
  • Joint owners wish to terminate their co-ownership because of divorce, inheritance, or other reasons.

Each situation is different and may require expert advice. As such, it is recommended to consult a partition attorney with your questions.

The Partition Process

Whether you want to initiate a partition in kind or a partition by sale, the overall process is generally the same. It’s important to understand what is partition and consider the following steps:

  1. Consult an expert: Complex property disputes may warrant a need for expert advice. An attorney can guide you on legal options and help you secure an outcome in your best interest.
  2. File a partition action: This is done in the court where the property is located. All co-owners must be named in the petition, and you must also file a default notice.
  3. Receive an interlocutory judgment: The court decides if the person who filed the partition action has the right to do so. If the right is established, the court issues a judgment stating each owner’s interest in the property, an order for the partition, and a decision for how it should be partitioned.
  4. Appointing a Partition Referee: The court appoints someone to oversee the partition action and ensure fairness and transparency. Additionally, the Partition Referee must ensure all is done according to the interests of each joint owner.
  5. Assessing the property: The Partition Referee conducts an appraisal to determine the property’s value. Then, they file a report with the court describing the property and suggesting how it should be partitioned.
  6. Determining a partition method: The court considers all factors, including the Partition Referee’s recommendations, to determine how the property will be partitioned.
  7. Reaching an outcome: The court will order a final judgment of partition.

If all parties cooperate, the partition can be made without litigation. However, if parties disagree, it may be necessary to hire a partition attorney and negotiate an agreement. If a mutual agreement is still not met, the court will make a final decision to resolve the dispute.

Factors & Considerations

The court takes various factors into account when deciding whether to grant or deny a partition request. Consider the following:

    • What type of property is it, and how is it used? For example, it could be land, a residential building, or a commercial facility, to name a few.
    • Can the property be divided? How? The courts assess whether it is practical for the property to be divided amongst each co-owner. For example, co-owners of a building with multiple units may be better positioned to partition the property in kind.
    • What type of ownership is involved? Parties may have differing ownership interests. These may include a joint tenancy, tenancy in common, tenancy by the entirety, and rights of survivorship.
    • What are each party’s rights? The court considers each party’s rights and obligations regarding their ownership interests. These may include tax payments, maintenance expenses, and mortgage payments, among others.
    • What are each party’s preferences and circumstances? These may include financial capacities, sentimental attachments to the property, the current use of the property, and other related factors. 

It is important to emphasize that partition laws, procedures, and considerations vary by state and circumstance. Thus, it is critical to understand what is partition because depending on each case’s unique circumstances, the court may consider other relevant factors.

Securing Property Rights

Securing your property rights involves considering the general advantages of partition for resolving disputes among co-owners. Consider the following benefits:

  • Protecting property interests: Co-owners may experience financial gain from partition, such as avoiding maintenance costs, taxes, and property liability.
  • Avoiding loss of investments: When properties are partitioned by each owner’s investment percentages, it allows for an equal division of asset(s).
  • Possibility of recovering funds: Partitioning property may allow co-owners to recover costs of renovations or repairs conducted by another co-owner.
  • Peace of mind: Joint owners may experience peace of mind when they gain independence from the conflicts and risks of co-owning property.

Working cooperatively and efficiently in the partition process may also help parties avoid incurring additional expenses from delay or litigation. 

Legal Solutions

Joint owners who struggle to reach a mutually beneficial solution may want to explore alternative legal solutions, such as mediation, co-ownership agreements, and buy-out agreements.

Mediation is when a neutral third party facilitates conflict resolution to reach a mutually agreeable solution. It is less formal and expensive than taking the issue to court and can help resolve disputes amicably. 

Co-ownership agreements can help joint owners negotiate the terms and conditions of the arrangement. This may include adding dispute-resolution mechanisms, decision-making procedures, and exit strategies. Creating a comprehensive and legally binding contract can prevent conflicts from escalating and avoid formal partition actions.

Finally, buy-out agreements allow co-owners to buy out each other’s interests and shares in the property. It is a straightforward, cost-effective remedy to property disputes. It is important to note that a partition attorney can help review your predicament and offer additional legal options. Consider speaking with a legal expert during a free consultation to determine the best course of action.


Property disputes among joint owners can be a stressful and costly conflict to endure. Fortunately, partition provides a legal remedy for co-owners seeking relief. Although it is a complex process involving many factors, seeking proper legal guidance can help secure your property rights and ensure a fair and just outcome for all parties involved.

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