1. What is a partition lawsuit?
A partition lawsuit is an action filed with the court to force the sale of real estate (“property”). This can happen when two or more co-owners of a property disagree on whether to keep the property, sell the property, or how to split the proceeds if the property is sold.
2. Who typically files a partition lawsuit?
Any individual who owns a portion of the property has the right to file a partition lawsuit. Common scenarios are ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend, heirs, family members, or LGBTQIA+.
3. What is the most common outcome of a partition lawsuit?
The most common outcome of a partition lawsuit is the property is sold and proceeds are split among the co-owners in proportion to their ownership interests and their fair share of expenses related to the property. This includes expenses such as mortgage payments, insurance, taxes, and necessary repairs.
4. How long does a partition lawsuit usually take?
A partition lawsuit usually takes on average 12 hours of legal work over a 9 to 12 month period. If a partition lawsuit is settled, it may take less than 9 to 12 months.
5. How much does a partition lawsuit cost?
Our firm charges $500 for legal costs (ex. court filing fees) and $4500 for nonrefundable minimum legal fees for filing or defending a partition lawsuit. These amounts are due upfront. Our firm also offers a contingency option where legal costs and legal fees are paid from the proceeds from the sale of the property. You can read more about these fees and the partition process here.
6. Can I recover my attorney fees and costs?
The short answer is: Yes, if property is partitioned, attorneys’ fees and costs can be awarded by the Court commensurate with services rendered and benefit to the partition lawsuit.
7. Are there any defenses to a partition lawsuit?
Partition is a matter of right between co-owners. However, there may be equitable defenses available. In a partition lawsuit involving heirs, the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act contains provisions on how one co-owner can legally buy out the other co-owners.
8. Is the property required to be auctioned off in a partition lawsuit?
No, the property does not have to be auctioned off in a partition lawsuit. To maximize proceeds, the property can also be sold in a private sale via a Special Magistrate.
9. Who does the Court appoint to sell the property and how are they paid?
The Court appoints a neutral third party called a Special Magistrate to sell the property. The Special Magistrate is a licensed real estate broker and charges the standard real estate commission of 6% from the proceeds of the sale of the property.
10. Will I have to attend court in person?
Not usually. Partition cases are usually handled through the attorneys, and clients are not needed to attend court to get their case resolved. In rare instances, clients may be required to appear in court via Zoom to testify as to expenses.
11. What happens if all parties agree to sell the property after (or before) a lawsuit is filed?
If all parties agree to sell the property, our office would draft a settlement agreement appointing a Special Magistrate to sell the property. The settlement agreement could divide the proceeds on a percentage basis or reserve the right to determine entitlement to proceeds after the sale.
12. What happens if one owner wants to keep the property?
The best option would be a pre-suit mediation. A pre-suit mediation is a process for resolving the case through a buyout before the partition lawsuit is filed with the court. Once a partition lawsuit is filed, a buyout may be possible by post-suit mediation, judicial order, or by purchasing the property from the Special Magistrate. In a partition lawsuit involving heirs, the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act contains provisions on how one co-owner can legally buy out the other co-owners.
13. How are the proceeds distributed after the sale of the property?
Often, a settlement agreement can be reached. If not, the Court decides how proceeds from the sale are divided. Some factors used to determine how the proceeds are divided include percentage of ownership, expenses, improvements, repairs etc.
14. What happens to a mortgage or other liens in a partition lawsuit?
Proceeds of the partition sale will be used to satisfy any mortgages or liens. The remaining proceeds will be distributed among the co-owners pursuant to a settlement agreement or Court order.
15. Can I file a partition lawsuit myself?
Yes, an individual can file a partition action on their own. However, a partition lawsuit can be a complicated process and it is recommended that you hire an experienced real estate attorney to assist with cases like this.
16. Does your firm handle partitions throughout Florida?
Our firm handles partitions state-wide throughout Florida.