Filing a Lawsuit for Partition in Florida
Property is often owned by two or more individuals. Sometimes this is by choice; a committed couple buys a home together or life-long friends go in on a house in an expensive real estate market. Other times co-ownership arises from other circumstances, such as siblings inheriting their parent’s home or a parcel of land.
When multiple individuals jointly own real estate, they have to make decisions regarding the property together. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for everyone to agree. When owners cannot resolve issues themselves, then the legal action one or more of them must take is known as partition. Under Florida law, partition is obtained through filing a civil lawsuit, during which the court will decide how to best handle jointly owned property.
Filing for Partition
When an individual wants to file an action for partition, they should speak with a real estate attorney to ensure they adhere to Florida law. The individual who files must be one of the owners, and they must file in the county where all or at least part of the land is.
When filing a complaint to begin a partition proceeding, it must include:
- A description of the land,
- The name of each owner,
- Each owner’s place of residence, and
- The quantity of each owner’s interest in the land.
If any of these factors are unknown, then the plaintiff must state that in the complaint.
Partitioning Divisible Land
If the plaintiff can prove that they are entitled to a partition of land that can be divided among the owners, and a court orders that the land be partitioned, then the court will appoint three individuals as commissioners to ensure the partition occurs properly. These commissioners can be agreed upon by the parties or selected by the judge.
The commissioners have a number of responsibilities and powers to ensure the land is appropriately divided. They are entitled to hire a surveyor, if necessary, and then partition the land. For instance, the commissioners will determine how one parcel of land owned by two people will be cut in half. When this is determined, the commissioners file a report with the court.
If the plaintiff or any defendant objects to what is in the report, they have 10 days to file an objection. If there are no reasonable objections, then the court will vest each party quiet title of their portion of the land.
Partition for Non-Divisible Land
Not all property owned by two or more people can be divided. For instance, when three siblings each have an equal interest in their parent’s house, the house cannot be divided into three separate properties. In this situation, a partition action is used to force a sale of the property, the proceeds of which are divided amongst the co-owners.
In this situation, the commissioners are appointed to review whether the land is truly non-divisible as the parties to the lawsuit say. When the commissioner reports that this true to the court, then the court may order that the land be put up for auction and sold by the commissioners.
The proceeds from the sale of the land are divided amongst the owners, taking into account who made a down payment on the property, paid the mortgage, paid the property taxes, and made improvements. If there are any mortgages or liens on the property, however, these must be satisfied before the co-owners are paid.
Call a Florida Real Estate Lawyer for Help
If you are interested in forcing a decision in regard to land you own with one or more other relatives, friends, ex-romantic partners, or ex-business partners, then contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. at 561-571-8970. Our West Palm Beach legal team is prepared to assist you today.