How Do You Partition Real Property in California?

If you are interested in learning more about how to partition real property, to begin, it is important to understand what a “partition” is.  Under California law, you may divide or “partition” real property you own with another person into individual shares.  Instead of altering title, it allows you to establish exclusive possession of the property you already own.  Successful partitions permanently resolve all ownership disputes, leaving you to use and enjoy your property freely.  

Since a house doesn't divide into individual shares easily, houses are generally not subject to "partition" by division into shares, and instead, you may force or be forced into a sale to the other property owner or a third party. 

In general, there are two types of partition in California: “voluntary” and “judicial.”  Voluntary partitions are created by agreement.  Hence, you and the other co-owners are free to choose how to partition the property, but everyone must agree.  In fact, a contract or deed effecting partition is void if it is not executed by or binding on all co-owners.   As in most situation, coming to an agreement with the parties involved is the best option if you can agree without resorting to the expense and stress of a judicial partition.  

Judicial partitions, as the term suggests, results from litigation where you have to go to court in order to have a judge or jury make a decision for you.  You may bring an action to have a judge ascertain and partition your portion of the property.  All parties with interests in the property must be named in the complaint.  One benefit of this option is that the court must resolve any other underlying issues related to the property, including title disputes and the status and priority of liens.

Going to court to resolve a real estate dispute may be a very stressful event; however, balancing this against the stress of making payments or continuing involvement with someone you no longer with to see must be weighed against it.  It's never an easy decision.

If you any questions about partitions of real property in California, you’re welcome to contact real estate attorney Elena Rivkin Franz at (408) 940-5360 or