Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) Section 873.930 – Court Approval of Agreement

Code of Civil Procedure section 873.930 outlines what happens after the agreement to partition by appraisal is filed with the court clerk under section 873.920. First, one of the parties much move for approval via noticed motion. And second, the court will either approve or disapprove the agreement based on equitable principles.

Code of Civil Procedure section 873.930 states:

  1. Any party to the agreement may, upon noticed motion, apply to the court for approval of the agreement.
  2. If the court determines that the agreement complies with Section 873.920 and that the terms and conditions are equitable, it shall approve the agreement and stay any pending division or sale of the property.
What is an Example?

“Shawn” and “Julie” are siblings who inherit a farm from their grandfather. Eventually, the siblings feud over management of the farm and Shawn sues to partition the property by sale.

During the initial stages of the lawsuit, the parties conduct discovery, take each other’s depositions, and file several competing motions on the pleadings. After each has poured thousands and thousands of dollars into litigation, they realize that it would be best if they worked together for Shawn to simply buy out Julie’s interest in the farm.

They draft up a document relaying to the court that they are in agreement to partition the property through the appraisal process, where Shawn will buy out Julie at an agreed-upon appraisal price, and file it with the court clerk under CCP § 873.920.

After the agreement is filed, Shawn files a motion to approve the partition by appraisal agreement under CCP § 873.930. The court reviews the agreement, finds that it is ultimately fair and equitable, and gives its approval for the property to be partitioned via the appraisal process.

Law Revision Commission Comments (CCP § 873.930)

1976 Addition.

Section 873.930 is new. The court, as a court of equity, may exercise a sound discretion in approving or refusing to approve a particular agreement.

Assembly Committee Comment

As is the case for most of the partition statutes, section 873.930 does not include an “official” Assembly Committee Comment from the California Legislature. But this is the norm. And that’s because the Legislature endorsed an overall adoption of the Law Revision Commission suggestions when it passed the new partition statutes in 1976.

In fact, the introduction to Assembly Bill 1671 (the bill that contained the new partition laws) states that the Revision Commission’s recommendations “reflect the intent of the Assembly Committee… in approving the various provisions of Assembly Bill 1671.” This demonstrates that the intent of the Legislature was essentially in line with that of the Revision Commission.

As to the comment and statute, recall that under Code of Civil Procedure section 873.920, the parties may file a written agreement with the court clerk for partition by appraisal. Section 873.930 governs what happens after this agreement is filed.

First, it’s important to note that merely filing the agreement is not the end of the agreement stage. Instead, under subsection (a), one of the parties needs to file a motion with the court for approval.

Second, and more importantly, are the guidelines the court must use in deciding whether or not to approve the agreement to employ the partition by appraisal process. The code states that terms and conditions must be “equitable.” (CCP § 873.930.) And the comment clarifies that the court must make its approval decision exercising “sound discretion.”

While this may not be much to go on, case law clarifies that an equitable discretionary decision is one that is fundamentally fair. Equity, after all, aims to do right and accomplish justice. (Hirshfield v. Schwartz (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 749, 770.) “In other words, equity recognizes that we live in a changing world and equitable remedies are flexible, capable of expanding to meet the increasing complexities.” (Lickiss v. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (2012) 208 Cal.App.4th 1125, 1133.)

As such, provided the agreement is not blatantly one-sided and unfair, it is likely that the court will approve a valid agreement to utilize partition by appraisal procedures, so long as the parties have entered a statutorily valid agreement under section 873.920.

Contact Us

Here at Underwood Law Firm, our knowledgeable attorneys are here to help navigate the complex web of case law and statutes surrounding partitions. If you are thinking of filing a partition, are already in the midst of a partition suit, or just have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office.

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