As I have discussed in prior articles, a partition action is a lawsuit to force a co-owner of real property to sell the property. The primary issue in a partition action, however, is often not whether or not one party has the right to force another party to sell the property. Rather, it is what to do with the proceeds of the sale when one or more of the parties contends that they are owed monies as a result of inequities in the amounts received and paid by the owners of the property.
In California, in addition to deciding whether or not the property should be ordered sold, the Court also is charged with determining any accounting or contribution issues raised by any of the parties. What this means is first, if there have been any rents or profits collected by one of the owners of the property, but not by the other owner(s), should the other owner(s) be reimbursed for their share of the rents or profits collected by the other co-owner.
Additionally, if one of the parties paid more towards the purchase or maintenance of the property, the court will decide whether or not that owner has a right to contribution, which is the right to be reimbursed by the other co-owner’s of the property for their shares of those costs.
These types of issues are referred to as accounting issues. In dealing with accounting issues, the Court applies principles of equity, where the court decides what would be fair under the circumstances. It is often in the parties’ best interests, to attempt to resolve the accounting issues without the necessity of having to fully litigate the accounting issues, as those issues can be very costly to litigate. In addition to being document intensive, accountings will often require the use of one or more costly expert.
I regularly represent clients in partition actions throughout the Bay Area, and in the East Bay, California, in Oakland, California, and in Walnut Creek, California,. If you have questions, or need representation by a California real estate attorney involving a partition action, please feel free to contact me to discuss your case or to arrange for a consultation. I can be reached at (510) 465-0025 or (925) 708-3306.