There are several forms of joint ownership in Florida, such as tenancy in common or joint ownership with rights of survivorship.
If the joint owners cannot agree on whether a property should be used, managed, or divided, the last resource may be to file a partition lawsuit. Keep reading to discover how a partition lawsuit works in Florida.
Florida Partition Lawsuit – An Introduction
It is not unusual to find partition lawsuits involving inherited properties. For example, let’s say a Florida resident owned property within state jurisdiction and shared the house with her two daughters.
Upon her death, the surviving daughters submitted her will to the court with a petition for probate. In her last will, she provided that the property should be divided among the surviving daughters. Each one should own 50% of interest in the property.
If the property is jointly owned by the two sisters and they cannot on whether the property should be used or managed, one of them may file a partition lawsuit in court.
How Does a Partition Lawsuit Work in Florida? – Preparing and Submitting the Lawsuit
The plaintiff must file a Petition for Partition Action with the appropriate court to commence a partition lawsuit.
As required by Florida Statutes §64.031, “the action may be filed by any one or more of several joint tenants, tenants in common, or coparceners, against their cotenants, coparceners, or others interested in the lands to be divided.
Florida Statutes §64.022 provides that “partition shall be brought in any county where the lands or any part thereof lie which are the subject matter of the action.”
The guidance of an experienced attorney is fundamental to ensuring a solid petition. When preparing the document, Florida Statutes §64.041 states that petitioners “shall allege:
- A description of the lands of which partition is demanded
- The names and places of residence of the owners, joint tenants, tenants in common, coparceners, or other persons interested in the lands according to the best knowledge and belief of plaintiff
- The quantity held by each, and
- Such other matters, if any, as are necessary to enable the court to adjudicate the rights and interests of the party”
The same statute adds that “if the name is unknown, the action may proceed as though such unknown persons were named in the complaint.” If the plaintiff does not know the names, residence, or quantity of interest of any owner or claimant, the petition must acknowledge it.
How Does a Partition Lawsuit Work in Florida? – Determining Each Owner’s Interest Share
Florida Statutes §64.051 provides that “the court shall adjudge the rights and interests of the parties, and that partition be made if it appears that the parties are entitled to it.”
Once the court has determined the rights and interests of the parties in the property, the judge “may order partition to be made, and the interest of plaintiffs and such of the defendants as have established their interest to be allotted to them (…).”
If it is not possible to proceed with an equitable physical division of the property, the judge may order a forced sale and perform an equitable distribution of the sale’s proceeds.
Depending on the court’s decision, it may happen through a judicial sale by public auction, a private sale conducted by the clerk or magistrate, or even a private based on a stipulation or agreement among the interested parties.