When unmarried co-owners of property in Pennsylvania disagree on the sale or control of a property, any owner may request that the property be divided. The partition process can be complex, time-consuming, and costly. If you are dealing with a property dispute in Pennsylvania, having a West Chester real estate lawyer represent your interests and negotiate on your behalf can help you reach an agreement without court intervention. Avoiding a partition lawsuit is the best way to save money, maximize your portion of the proceeds from a sale, and resolve the matter in a timely manner.
Understanding Partition Actions
A partition action is a lawsuit in which a court determines whether a property with two or more owners is to be partitioned or sold. To begin the process, a partition complaint must be filed in the Court of Common Pleas in the county where the property is located. Although you can file for a partition action on your own, it is risky if you do not have an understanding of Pennsylvania real estate law. Hiring an experienced real estate lawyer can save a lot of time, expense, and headaches in the long run.
What Is Involved In A Partition Action?
After the partition complaint is filed and served, there will be a preliminary conference in which each owner can present their position and attempt to reach an agreement. If an amenable agreement cannot be reached, the judge will continue on or appoint a partition master to oversee the case. The partition master is usually a local attorney who is experienced in real estate law.
How is Property Divided?
The judge or partition master will evaluate whether or not the property can actually be divided into sections. Often, this is not possible with smaller properties or homes, so the court will order it to be sold instead of physically divided. When a case involves a large piece of land, they may order the property to be divided so all parcels are equal in value. If it is not feasible to divide the land so that each owner gets an equal share, the court may order the owner who obtains the more valuable portion to pay the co-owner the difference in value. If this is not a reasonable solution, the court will order the property to be sold.
Common Situations that May Lead to a Partition Action
There are countless scenarios in which conflict can arise, but partition actions often involve unmarried couples, siblings who inherit a home, and co-owners who purchase investment properties together. If you own a property you plan to leave to your children, it is a good idea to speak with an estate planning attorney about the best way to distribute your assets to avoid family conflict after your passing. If you are buying a home with a romantic partner or fiancé, it is best to consult a family law attorney before you purchase it to hash out the details of how ownership will be handled should you split up before you are married.
Do you need assistance with legal matters surrounding real estate? Our experienced team at Carosella & Associates can help.