Owning property can be a smart way to invest your money. Unfortunately, buying property does not always turn out the way you plan. Maybe you bought a home with a significant other and now you are splitting up. Or perhaps you and a business partner bought land to build on and are now parting ways.

If you own a property with one or more person and you cannot agree on what to do with it, you may want to consider filing a partition action.

What is a partition action?

A partition action is a legal action taken by one of the property owners asking the court to divide a property. Any of the owners can file a partition complaint with the court. The complaint typically includes a property description, information about the co-owners, details about the ownership interests, as well as information about the mortgage and any liens or taxes owed.

A property is divided in one of two ways

After partition suit is filed, a judge reviews the order and decides how to divide the property. It can be divided two ways. The court can order the property split in half, and each owner retains one-half ownership. This is usually only done for a vacant lot. Splitting a home or a business in half is much more difficult.

The property can also be divided through sale. If it is jointly owned, the sale proceeds are divided equally. However, if ownership is not split evenly, the proceeds are awarded based on each person’s ownership percentage.

Assuming the judge declares the property sold, the court typically appoints a master. The master orders a property appraisal, arranges the sale of the property and then splits the money among the owners. Any fees incurred are taken from the sale proceeds.

For shared property owners who cannot agree, filing a partition lawsuit may be the best option.