Partition actions are often misunderstood and infrequently utilized

Oftentimes, a piece of real property may be owned by multiple individuals or entities. What happens when those individuals or entities decide that they no longer wish to continue as co-owners of that real property, but they cannot decide how to dispose of it? When the co-owners are a married couple that wishes to terminate their marriage, such considerations are held by the Domestic Relations Court. However, many times co-owners are not married individuals. So, what happens then? In such cases, the owners may have the right to file what is called a “partition action”.

In essence, a partition action asks a Court to intervene in the deadlock caused by co-owners who cannot agree on how to utilize or dispose of a piece of real property. Partition is a very old remedy which traces its roots back to English common law. Many years ago, farms were often owned by the patriarch of a family. When that patriarch would die, the farm would be passed down to the patriarch’s sons. If the sons were unable to agree as to how to operate the farm, one of them could institute a partition action asking the Court to equitably divide the farm amongst them.

In an urban setting, a partition action can look very different from this description. In today’s world, most often a partition action occurs in the context of a residential property which is owned by two or more unmarried people. Unlike a farm, a Court cannot “divide” a home amongst multiple people in an equitable fashion. So, a partition action in today’s world asks the Court to sell the subject property, assuming it cannot be divided equitably. The property will be appraised, and each of the parties to the lawsuit has an opportunity to purchase the property. If none of the parties elect to do so, the property is normally sold at public auction.

Thankfully for the party instituting the partition action, Ohio statutory law provides that said party can be awarded attorney’s fees for their trouble. This helps to compensate the party who hired a lawyer to shepherd the partition action to an eventual sale, which benefits all parties to the partition action.

Partition actions are often misunderstood and infrequently utilized. This leads many Courts to struggle with the administration of partition actions. For this reason, it is very important that you hire a real estate attorney who has experience in this subject. Do you need legal representation to commence a partition action? Has a partition been filed against you? Contact the experienced real estate lawyers at Katz, Pryor & DiCuccio, LLP.