Pittsburgh Partitions Lawyer
Divorce and other settlement agreements are intended to resolve all matters regarding marital property. Unfortunately, some matters may fall outside of the divorce code, particularly where unmarried couples own property jointly, or where a divorce action did not resolve the distribution of a joint asset. A divorcing couple may even choose to continue to co-own certain property after a divorce, believing that they can continue to do so amicably. Plans, lives, and feelings change. When you are left with an unresolved property dispute after a divorce or separation, Pennsylvania law provides a legal process to resolve the matter. The Pittsburgh partition action lawyers at Bunde & Roberts, P.C., are here to help.
What is a Partition Action?
If a married couple owns real estate jointly and a divorce is granted which does not resolve the ownership of that property, or if an unmarried couple owns real property jointly and they become involved in a dispute over ownership, the parties cannot rely on the typical remedy of equitable distribution of property under the Divorce Code to resolve the dispute. There is no longer a divorce action attached, meaning that the parties must resort to other legal remedies.
In Pennsylvania, the parties may address the situation by pursuing a partition action in the Court of Common Pleas. Partition actions in Pennsylvania are governed by statute. For a partition action to take place, the owners must have joint title. One of the joint owners will file a complaint, listing the property description, identifying information of the co-owners, and describing their interest in the property. The complaint will often include claims for damages, including things like taxes, mortgage payments, maintenance, or other expenses related to the property that one party may have incurred. The parties essentially ask the court to divide the property in a manner that is fair and just in light of their respective interests and investment in the property.
The court will typically ask the parties to attempt to resolve the partition of the property among themselves, after hearing their respective positions. If the parties cannot agree, the judge will either oversee the matter personally or will appoint a partition “master” (typically a local attorney) to handle the matter. The judge or master will inspect the property, conduct hearings, possibly obtain an appraisal, and work toward settling the matter.
Potential Results of a Pennsylvania Partition Action
Pennsylvania courts have a few options for resolving a partition action. The court may do any of the following, as appropriate given the nature of the property, the circumstances of the parties, and the nature of their respective ownership:
- divide the property into individual shares, where possible (for example, different units within an apartment building or different acres across a rural property);
- award the property to one owner with compensation to the other;
- where partition leaves the parties with unequal ownership, award a part of the property to each and order the owner who gained more to compensate the other for the difference; or
- if the property is incapable of being partitioned, direct the sale of the property and subsequent distribution of the sales proceeds to each party as appropriate.
Experienced Guidance from a Knowledgeable Pittsburgh Partition Action Lawyer
The seasoned and detail-oriented family law attorneys at Bunde & Roberts, P.C., have successfully handled partition actions for many of our clients. If you jointly own real estate with a current or former spouse and the distribution of that property has not been resolved, our experienced Pittsburgh partition action lawyers are here to help. Call Bunde & Roberts, P.C., today at 412-391-4330 for a consultation.