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What is a Partition Attorney?

If you co-own a property with another person or persons, sometimes disputes may arise, making you want to end the partnership. Partnership disputes and business litigation are prevalent. Usually, when parties co-owning a property are in conflict, they may agree to sell the property so the parties involved can access the funds without delay. However, in cases involving complex partnerships, such as inherited properties with many co-owners, it may be difficult for the parties to settle out of court and a partition action is an answer.

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What is a partition action?

A partition action is a court process taken by co-owners of a property to have the court divide it fairly among the owners. Every co-owner of a property has a legal right to sell their share and get out of the partnership if they desire. In California, it’s enshrined in Code of Civil Procedure Section 872.210 and helps bring an end to co-ownership disagreements. For example, when you feel like you should sell the property you are co-owning, and the other party doesn’t want to sell, you can seek the help of the court to have the property sold fairly, and each party given their fair share after all debts and attorney fees are settled. 

Of course, a partition action takes time and money. It may be years before the court settles the matter and you access the funds or share of the property. In some cases, you may not even win the case if your lawsuit is not organized and handled by experienced legal counsel. To prepare for a partition action, you must understand how it works. Here is a look:

How does partition action work?

When you seek the help of a court in partitioning property, the court will examine the nature of the property then appoint a partition referee to manage it pending the settlement of the case. That means you and your co-owners are removed from management until the court issues a ruling or the case is settled. 

The referee’s work may also involve valuations, where the court may ask them to provide information about the property that may be useful in the ruling. 

Ultimately, the court may decide that one of you ends up with the property and that you should compensate the others for their shares. It may also decide that the property should be sold. The other solution has the property physically divided if it’s not a single-family home. Whatever the case, if you bring a partition action to court and win, you may be able to be compensated for some or all of the lawyer fees and expenses for having been forced to bring the matter to court, to begin with.

How to win a partition action

Settling or winning a partition lawsuit to your total satisfaction depends on the circumstances of each case. But regardless, all parties should endeavor to settle the matter without incurring unnecessary costs; otherwise, swelling legal and court fees will eat away at your shares of the property. Also, in cases where settlement cannot be reached out of court, take the matter to court quickly so you don’t suffer unnecessary costs and delays. 

In all cases, make sure to: 

  • Stay organized: have all documents supporting your ownership of the property ready. Please keep them in labeled sections in a file.
  •  Stay active in the business matters and keep a record of minutes, including what was discussed and what was agreed upon 
  • Communicate clearly, letting all co-owners know what they are required to do 
  • Meet all your responsibility and honor all your business agreements 
  • Get experienced legal counsel to help you strategize

How long does a partition action take?

A partition action usually takes about 18 to 24 months to get to trial. Some cases are done in less time; others take longer. Different factors affect trial scheduling, including how complex a case is to discover, discovery disputes in some cases, and how the court schedules its trials. However, these estimates assume your case goes to trial. In most cases, partition actions are settled out of court and may not take that long if you use experienced counsel to help you reach a fair resolution faster. 

While some attorneys start a case and push aggressively toward trial, others are on the lookout for opportunities to settle the case sooner and in your favor, so you incur fewer fees and costs less. Always go with the latter as it’s effective counsel.

How much can a partition action cost?

The attorney determines the amount they charge based on how complex the matter is.

Can a partition action be stopped?

Once it becomes a court case, a partition action cannot be stopped since the co-owner has a legal right to sell their interest if they want. However, if you are a co-owner, there are things you can do to slow down the forced sale and prevent the breakup: 

  • Buy the other party’s stake in the property.
  • Check if they waived their right to partition. 
  • Check if all parties have the title or ownership interest. 
  • Check for breach of contract. 


Every co-owner of a property has the legal right to sell their share if they want to get out of the business. Agreements can be reached out of court, or in the case of complex partnerships, the court may be involved in partitioning the property equitably. Whether you are filing a partition action or are against it, having experienced legal counsel can help you strategize and reach a favorable outcome faster without unnecessary fees and costs. 

Hopefully, this is useful in helping you know what to do in case of a partition action. If you need help with your partition action, let our experienced legal counsel guide you through the process and watch out for your interests. We are trust and real estate attorneys in California with experience in partition actions too. Schedule a free consultation with us today to find out what we can do for you.

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