Real Estate Partition Action Attorney
People can wind up in bitter disputes with co-owners of a piece of land. One common disagreement occurs when one or more joint owners of a piece of property wish to sell the property, while at least one joint owner wants to keep the property. Often these disputes arise between divorcing couples or siblings who inherit land from a parent. In Illinois, real estate co-owners have the option of filing a “partition” action to resolve their land dispute.
If you own a piece of real property, whether designated for commercial or residential use, and you find yourself in an unresolvable conflict with your co-owner(s), you have legal remedies available to you. The partition action legal team at MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle, Ltd. is ready to help you evaluate your legal options and protect your interests in court.
What is a Partition Action?
A partition action is a legal claim meant to divide ownership of a piece of real property. A partition action is not a lawsuit to decide who is the rightful owner of a piece of property (such as an action to quiet title). Instead, a partition action is much like a divorce proceeding: The parties go to court to seek an equitable division of the property in question so that each party walks away with separate ownership of their own piece of the property, rather than continued joint ownership of the entire property. Parties who jointly own acres of farmland, for example, can seek partition so that each winds up with an equal number of acres separately owned.
Parties who own land have an absolute right to seek partition of the property unless that right has been restricted by law, written waiver, or a provision in a will. A partition can be exercised even if the right has not been established by conflict. In fact, Illinois courts prefer partition as a remedy in order to maintain peace between the parties.
How to Seek Partition
A co-owner of a piece of property can file a complaint in the county in which the property sits to seek partition. They must name as a defendant every party with an ownership interest (i.e., all co-owners). The complaint should describe the property to be divided and explain the parties’ respective ownership interests. The complaint should identify all interested parties, including tenants, lien-holders, and local taxation bodies. Only property that can be fairly divided can be partitioned by the court (for example, a single residential home cannot reasonably be divided, but a forced sale and division of the proceeds may be appropriate). The complaint will identify the specific remedy sought: Either to partition the land among the owners or to sell the property and distribute the proceeds among the owners.
Either at the request of the parties or on its own volition, the court can appoint a disinterested commissioner (typically, a real estate appraiser or similar expert) to evaluate whether the property is fairly subject to division, whether any property rights would be harmed or prejudiced by division, and how the division should be undertaken. The parties may also employ a surveyor to assist in dividing the property. Ideally, the court will be able to render a final decision that gives each co-owner a fair share of the property, in accordance with their respective ownership interest prior to partition.
What if a Property Cannot Be Divided?
Not all property can reasonably be divided. While a hundred acres of rural land can be split down the middle or in as many parts as necessary, other types of property such as residential homes cannot be so easily split. In those circumstances, the court will decide whether to order the sale of the property. Upon sale of the subject property, the proceeds will be divided among the co-owners in accordance with their respective rights of ownership. Talk to a seasoned real estate partition lawyer about your land dispute to find out what remedies are available to you.
If you’re in need of experienced, educated, and effective legal representation for your Chicago-area real estate partition action or real estate transaction, contact the offices of MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle, Ltd. for a consultation, in Hoffman Estates at 847-310-0025, or in Des Plaines at 847-298-5030.