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Bellflower Partition Lawyers

In 1784, Manuel Nieto, received the first original legal title to the land which today is known as the City of Bellflower. In its early days, the land was part of the Golden Age of the Ranchos, where cattle were left to graze. Today, Bellflower is an urban community with over 50,000 residents and is considered the 8th most densely populated city in California. As such, residents of Bellflower may find themselves wanting to move to a less populous city. Jointly owned real estate, however, may become a problem if a dispute arises between co-owners. Generally, a partition action is the best remedy for disputing co-owners in four broad categories:

  • Split real estate dispute;
  • Brother-Sister real estate dispute;
  • Investor-Investor real estate dispute; and
  • Significant other real estate dispute

Any co-owner of real or personal property has an absolute right to bring a partition suit, absent a waiver of that right. Where the court finds that the plaintiff is entitled to partition, the court shall make an interlocutory judgment that will determine each party's respective interests and order the property to be partitioned. (CCP § 872.720(a).) The costs of partition for the common benefit are then distributed in accordance with each party's respective shares and interest in the property. This includes reasonable attorney's fees incurred or paid by a party for the common benefit, the reasonable costs of a title report procured pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure Section 872.220, and other disbursements or expenses determined by the court to have been incurred or paid for the common benefit. (CCP § 874.010.) Recently, the California Court of Appeal addressed the apportionment of the costs of partition in a case decided by the Fifth District Court of Appeal known as Tolley v. Kobzoff (2020) 2020 Cal.App.Unpub.LEXIS 8097.

There, three siblings took title to the Property after their dad died, and later Lori Tolley, sought to partition the Property. The other siblings, Bonnie and Fred Kobzoff, failed to take action and default judgments were entered against both of them. The parties had previously agreed that Fred would be responsible for managing the Property and getting it sold as soon as possible. After receiving multiple offers, Fred rejected them all. The house on the Property was later destroyed in a fire. The trial court entered an interlocutory judgment, ordering the Property to be sold and the proceeds to be divided, and awarding costs award in favor of Tolley. Bonnie and Fred appealed, based on the apportionment of the costs of partition.

The Court of Appeal affirmed, finding that the trial court was authorized to "apportion the costs of partition among the parties in proportion to their interests or make such other apportionment as may be equitable." (CCP § 874.040.) It further found that "broad language does not limit the trial court's equitable discretion to disproportionately allocate the costs of partition." (Lin v. Jeng (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 1008, 1025.) The Appellate Court determined that but for Fred's obstructive behavior of refusing to honor the siblings' agreement to sell the Property for eleven years and Fred's mismanagement of the Property, Tolley would not have incurred the costs of partition. Thus, Tolley explains how a court has the discretion to apportion the costs of partition to a single party based on equitable considerations.

How the Underwood Law Firm Can Help

In order to start resolving these situations, you should contact the experienced Bellflower Partition Lawyers at the Underwood Law Firm, P.C. as soon as you are ready to start the next chapter of your life.

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"We were in need of an attorney with considerable knowledge of real estate law and the legal issues related to property ownership. Eli Underwood went above and beyond our expectations. In keeping us abreast of our suit, his communication skills were outstanding. This talent was especially demonstrated when dealing with the apposing counsel. We feel this gave us a tremendous advantage over the opposing party that resulted in us reaching a successful outcome. I would highly recommend Eli Underwood as we found him to be an exceptional attorney." P.B.
"In our need for legal services we found Eli to be well informed and on top of our case and our needs. Our's was not an ordinary case as it was a case with many facets. It was a very convoluted case. There were multiple owners involved in a property dispute where one of the owners sued the rest of the owners with a Partition Suit. Needless to say Eli was instrumental in helping us resolve our differences and gained us a profitable sale all with good end results for all. If you hire Eli Underwood you will not be disappointed!" M.A.