What are the options for a co-owner of a property when the other owner wants out?

UPDATED: Dec 27, 2011

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What are the options for a co-owner of a property when the other owner wants out?

I bought a home with an ex-fiance in the peak of the housing market. I stupidly pulled monies out of my other property (now upside down) as a down payment and to remodel the kitchen, install new appliances, new windows, etc. My ex contributed about $2,000. I put in over $100,000. He moved out 5.5 years ago and since then I’ve been exclusively making the payments. I even paid off the second. I didn’t want to walk away from my responsibilities and have made many sacrifices as to not lose the home. This summer, I tried for an assumption and was denied. My ex is demanding I sell or refinance. What are my rights? What are his?

Asked on December 27, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, in a situation such as this, the co-owner who wants to sell has the right to pursue what is known as "partition". This is a legal remedy available to co-owners of property when they cannot agree as to whether or not to sell the property or other ownership matters. A partition allows for the division of property among co-owners if the property can be physically divided.  Where division would be impracticable (as in the instance of a single family residence) a court will order a "sale in lieu of partition" and an equitable division of the proceeds among the owners. Before doing so however, it would permit a co-owner to purchase the interest of the remaining co-owners at fair market value.

However, this is just a general summary. You really should at this point consult directly with a real estate attorney in your area further on the matter.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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