Dividing a Home Among Non-Married Persons

Dividing a home becomes necessary when multiple persons or businesses own property together, and one wants out.

For married couples, the process of dividing such property generally occurs through a divorce. For non-married persons, such as siblings who own inherited property together, the legal action for dividing a home is known as partition. Here, I’ll discuss what to know about such a case.

What is Partition?

Partition is a legal process to force the sale of property. Any owner of property, with almost no exceptions, has a right to such a sale.

In some, limited cases, the court can physically divide property as a remedy in a partition case (known as a partition in kind). Most of the time, however, the property is simply sold, with the proceeds divided among the owners.

Partition cases may be filed in either Probate and Family Court or Land Court.

Partition Process

Because the right to partition is generally absolute, it is always best to see if a partition case can be avoided in the first place. If co-owners can work out dividing a home among themselves, time, costs, and legal expenses can often be avoided.

If, however, a partition case is needed, the court will generally see if one of the co-owners wishes to buy out the other’s shares of the property. If this is a possibility, the court will usually allow that to happen.

If that cannot be done, the court will usually appoint a separate official, known as a commissioner, to oversee the sale process. Commissioners are usually attorneys themselves, with experience in real estate law.

Once the home is sold, it becomes necessary to determine what amount of the proceeds each owner gets from the sale. Such a decision can take into account who paid the mortgage and taxes and performed improvements on the property.

Final Thoughts

When dividing a home among property owners, it can often be helpful to have the assistance of an experienced attorney. Contact me for a consultation to see how I might be able to help.