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Partition Suits - July 2013

July 19, 2013

by D. Rossen S. Greene.

A person may end up sharing ownership of a piece of real property with others whom that person would rather not share anything. This situation can arise in any number of ways, but the most common is inheritance. For example, a person may inherit a partial interest in a piece of real property and not be able to get along with the other co-owners. When thorny issues arising from the co-ownership of real property cannot be negotiated among the parties involved, the remedy in Virginia is often a partition suit.

A partition suit may be brought by a person that owns certain partial interests in the property. A tenant in common, joint tenant, executor with the power to sell real property, and/or lien creditor, may be able to bring a partition suit. See Va. Code § 8.01-81, et seq. Interests in property are a complex subject, and there are a number of interests in property that do not entitle the holder thereof to bring a partition suit. A review of all of the types of property interests which do not entitle the holder to bring a partition suit is beyond the scope of this short article, and in any event, determining the exact nature of a particular interest in property can be an additional legal question. In order to determine whether or not you can bring a partition suit, an attorney will need to review the title to the specific property involved and the surrounding facts.

There are a number of different possible outcomes in a partition suit. Filing and/or proceeding with the suit may motivate the parties involved to reach an agreement to solve the situation. If the suit is taken to completion the court may resolve the matter in a number of different ways. The court may divide the property into separate portions for the persons entitled thereto, known as “allotment in kind,” or the court may allot the entire property to one person involved who would then buy out the rest of the co-owners. Alternatively, if the property cannot be conveniently partitioned and the interests of those involved will be promoted by a sale, the court may have the property sold and the proceeds of the sale divided.

Attorneys in the real estate section of Pender & Coward, P.C., would be happy to consult with you regarding a potential partition suit.