How to Respond to a Petition for Partition

The question of how to respond to a petition for partition usually arises when a property owner receives a lawsuit from Land Court or Probate and Family Court, notifying them that a co-property owner wants out of jointly owned property.

Here, I’ll discuss what should be done in response to such a partition.

Understanding Partition

Partition is a legal process for dividing jointly owned property. If any owner wants to sell their portion of the property, and the other owners refuse, a partition action may be filed, asking the court to either (a) sell the property or (b) physically divide it among the owners.

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

How to Respond to a Petition for Partition

As with any lawsuit, the most important rule in addressing such a matter is do not ignore it. If you fail to answer a lawsuit or attend a court hearing, the court will issue a default judgment against you, impairing your right to assert any applicable defenses.

When responding to partition, careful consideration must be made about the realistic outcomes in such a case. The general rule is that if any party wants out of the jointly owned property, they have a right to do so.

With attorney fees and other costs, partition cases can get expensive quickly. For this reason, a party defending against a partition case should decide (1) whether they have the means and ability to buy the other owner’s share of the property or (2) the terms by which they are agreeable to selling the property and distributing the proceeds.

The court, of course, is available if the parties cannot agree on such matters. In my experience, however, most parties do much better in the long run by resolving these matters on their own.

Final Thoughts

Contact me for a consultation if you need assistance with a partition case.