Partition lawsuits are common in Los Angeles. You would therefore think that partition attorneys are common in Los Angeles. However, partition lawsuits have some specific rules and processes that many Los Angeles lawyers are unfamiliar with. An experienced real estate litigation attorney with knowledge and experience in partition lawsuits is your best bet for a good resolution of your partition lawsuit.
Partition lawsuits also often involve family litigation. In other words partition litigation is often between family members who have invested in property together. While family litigation over real property does not differ from other types of partition lawsuits, the emotions and dynamics of the parties do. Attorneys who handle family litigation can either steer the case toward a sensible and cost-effective settlement or they can fan the flames of the family discord with an eye toward more billing. Despite the emotions of the situation, an experienced trial attorney who can steer the parties towards resolution will always be in your best interest.
Partition attorneys should be looking at several options at the very outset of the litigation. First and foremost the attorney should be asking whether there is an opportunity for the parties to come together, either informally or in mediation, to work out their differences and reach a settlement. Litigation involves both time and expense. Trials in the Los Angeles Superior Court can take up to two years. Two years of paying for a trial attorney to handle the partition litigation during this time can be very expensive. Moreover, the end result of a partition lawsuit can be foreseen with relative accuracy–either the property is divided or sold. Both of these results can be accomplished privately in a quicker and less expensive way.
Partition by Division: While not always possible, especially with single family residences or single buildings, California law favors partition by division. If the co-owners own a large parcel of vacant land, for example, the court will first look to see if the property can be divided among the co-owners. This way each of the co-owners will end up with what is hopefully an equivalent piece of the property. The court is aided in this process by having experts determine how to divide the property equally. This is something that the parties can simply do and, if they agree, finalize without having to wait for a trial on the matter.
Partition by Sale: The Court’s second option will be to arrange for a sale of the property. The proceeds from the sale can then be divided up among the co-owners. This is also a process that the co-owners can do privately, even prior to or during the litigation. Of course it takes agreement among the co-owners. Another sale option is to have one or more co-owners buy out the other co-owners. The attorneys can arrange for a neutral appraisal (or multiple appraisals) of the property in an attempt to agree on a buy-out price.
A partition attorney, at least in the Los Angeles courts, should be advising his clients that these options are available. Moreover, the attorney should be describing how the partition process will work so that the clients know that, in the end, the property will either be divided or sold. There are no other options. The attorney should also go over the potential costs of partition litigation so that the clients can weigh the different options. Often a client will come out of the litigation better by agreeing to a settlement rather than paying litigation attorneys, experts, accountants and others as they go through the litigation process. If all else fails and the parties are unable to agree, the trial attorneys should be pushing their clients towards sale of the property. In this situation no one gets the property and the money is divided on a pro rata basis.
Of course, in family litigation between siblings or others it is never this easy…
Partition attorney Los Angeles: Laine T. Wagenseller of Wagenseller Law Firm specializes in real estate litigation in the Los Angeles Superior Court and throughout Southern California. He can be contacted at (213) 286-0371.