Trusted Litigation For Clients Throughout The Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area For Two Decades

What To Do With Jointly Owned Property In Dispute?

In Texas, disputes involving jointly owned property are frequently settled through a legal process known as “partition.” When co-owners of a home cannot agree on matters relating to the home, the court can force the sale of the real property and distribute the proceeds of the sale to the co-owners per their ownership percentage after taking into account all applicable equities.

How Partition In Texas Works

Texas law provides each co-owner of real property with an absolute right to have their property partitioned through a forced judicial sale. Texas courts are required to partition property even if only one co-owner makes such a request, and the courts have no wiggle room or discretion. The court must order the property partitioned. Partition is sometimes referred to as a “forced sale.” Partition only applies to real property and not personal property.

If the property is a typical residential home that cannot be “cut in half,” the court is required to order the home sold and the proceeds divided among the co-owners, pursuant to their percentage of ownership. If the property is in the form of land that can be divided, e.g., thousands of acres of pasture, the court must use experts to determine how to best equitably divide the land between the co-owners. This is known as division “in kind.” Partition law is the same throughout Texas. At The DOYLE LAW Firm, I am willing to take the right case in any county located in our great state.

Common Situations

Typically, the partition of a home results in its sale; however, any co-owner has the right to attempt to purchase the home like any other buyer.

Many people find themselves in situations where they co-own property with an individual or a group, but the relationship has deteriorated, resulting in co-owners no longer wishing to live together, work together, socialize or otherwise maintain their shared interests in property.

Sometimes, this is the result of a failed relationship, a divorce, or the passing of a loved one that did not have a will or had a will that was not probated. Often, many years after a death, surviving children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and possibly even cousins, nephews and nieces, find themselves co-owning a particular residence. The necessity of partition becomes evident when one co-owner attempts to sell the property, only to find out that the property’s title reveals surprising co-ownership, which prohibits the purchase of requisite title insurance (because all necessary parties are not parties to the intended sale), thus completely impeding the sale. In such scenarios, a partition action may be the only way to settle the parties’ co-ownership issues and clear title.

What Are My Options? How Will I Afford An Attorney?

Partition is a somewhat complicated area of the law and, unfortunately, an attorney is probably necessary to get the ball rolling and a partition lawsuit filed. I am attorney James J. Doyle, III, and I work on both an hourly and contingent basis. Even if you do not think you have the money for a partition attorney, I may be willing to enter a contingency arrangement wherein my attorney fees would only be paid once you are paid from the proceeds of the sale of the property.

Whether I can agree to a contingency will depend on a number of factors, including your ownership percentage and the amount of equity in the home. If you have any title work on the property in question, please have it on hand when you call me. In a partition action, the court can consider certain factors to adjust or offset the amount that each co-owner receives. A co-owner may receive more or less than their percentage of ownership after these adjustments and offsets. Some factors the courts consider are which co-owner paid the taxes, who lived in the residence and who paid for capital improvements, such as a new roof or a driveway. See my page on other frequently asked questions about partition by following this link.

Common Law Marriage And Partition Actions

In a partition action with a forced sale, all the profits from the sale of the home are divided among all the co-owners. Hopefully, every co-owner should get paid; however, liens, mortgages and equities can affect how much – if any – money gets paid to each co-owner.

If two people in a romantic relationship purchase property, but the romance ends and the parties cannot communicate effectively or decide what to do with the property, a partition may be essential. However, though the parties may not have been married in the traditional sense, if they were common law married, then the property should be divided pursuant to a divorce. A couple becomes married pursuant to common law when the following three factors exist simultaneously: the couple agree to be husband and wife, the couple live together and the couple holds themselves out to the public as married. Sometimes, people do not realize that they are married under the common law – a strange situation to be sure.

Title Companies

Many times, title companies are the first ones to become aware of surprising co-ownership issues. If you have any possible title-related partition issues, contact The DOYLE LAW Firm so I can help you. I am willing and able to handle the right partition actions in any county in Texas (sorry Oklahoma).

Alliteration Please

Phone me, possibly today, to pen your petition to partition property so you can receive your portion of the profits from its sale. My phone number is 214-522-6202.