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Real Estate Litigation: Partition

NJ Real Estate Litigation Lawyers:  Partition

Real Estate PartitionOur NJ real estate litigation lawyers handle real estate partition actions between co-owners.

It is not uncommon for family members to own and live in residential property together, whether it be a single family dwelling or multifamily dwelling. Examples include parents and children, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, unmarried individuals as boyfriend and girlfriend, etc.  Often this type of joint property ownership can result in disputes not foreseen during happier times when the property was purchased. For example, one co-owner group may want to cash out and sell the property but the other co-owner group can’t afford to buy them out. Disputes may also center around who should live at the property, who is responsible to pay the mortgage and taxes, who is responsible for repairs and maintenance, etc.  Disputes such as these can create substantial family turmoil.  So what happens in these situations where the co-owners cannot reach an agreement?

What is a partition action?

For the situations described above New Jersey provides an equitable remedy known as partition. Partition is a legal action recognized in New Jersey that allows for dividing real estate owned by two or more people. Real property held by co-owners as tenants in common or joint tenants (but not by spouses as tenants by the entirety or by N.J. registered domestic partners) may be partitioned. The partition process is governed by statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:56-1 et seq. If one or more of the co-owners of real estate is or are unwilling to sell the property and divide the proceeds of sale in accordance with all of the co-owners’ ownership interests, partition is the only way that a person who owns a share of real estate as a tenant in common or joint tenant can separate his or her interest from the other co-owners. The remedy of partition requires the filing of a lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, usually filed in the County where the property is located.

While it the Court is empowered to physically divided properties and distribute among the co-owners, this is uncommon and generally applies only to vacant land. If there is to be a physical division, then the Court may appoint a commissioner to recommend a proposed division of the property. More often, and for practical reasons, the Court will order a sale of the property and apportion the proceeds among the co-owners.  The Court may direct the sale of property if it appears that a partition of the property cannot be made without great prejudice to the owners, or persons interested in the property. See N.J.S.A. 2A:56-2. Alternatively, the Court may order a partition that would allow one co-owner to purchase the interest of the remaining co-owner in lieu of a physical division of the property or a court-order sale; in these situations the Court will consider any adjustments or credits between the co-owners if one paid more than his or her proportionate share of expenses such as mortgage and taxes, repairs and maintenance.

Need help with a partition action?  Our New Jersey law firm has experience in this area of real estate litigation.  Contact our NJ real estate litigation lawyers today to discuss your case. One of our experienced real estate litigation lawyers will respond within 24 – 48 hours.

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