Ex Boyfriend/Girlfriend Disputes

You hoped to live happily ever after with them, and bought a house to start that future together. You trusted them, but now all that is over. You don’t know how things turned out so wrong, but now all of that is in the past. The most important thing is your future and being able to start over. But there’s a hitch.

You have tried to offer solutions until you were blue in the face, but nothing seems to work. They do not want to be reasonable, and it feels like they are using the property to hold you hostage. You thought the property was a springboard towards a brighter future, but now it just feels like an anchor holding you back from the life you want. Because of this property, it feels hard to start a new relationship or buy a home of your own. You worry that you have made a mistake that has screwed up your entire future. You wonder if there is any way out. There is.

The Underwood Law Firm was founded to help good people escape bad real estate relationships. We are currently handling over 100 partition actions throughout California, and are helping many people just like you to secure their inheritance.

Partition Actions—The Way Out

When one owner wants to sell real estate, but another owner does not, then anyone who owns real estate in California may file a partition action to facilitate the sale of their interest.

Essentially, a partition action exists to allows people who own real estate together to take their share of the equity and go their separate ways. But, as simple as this seems, partition actions can often become complex lawsuits. Disputes commonly arise as to what type of partition may be sought and the process for determining ownership interests.

An Example of a Partition Action

For example, “Julie” bought a house with her boyfriend, “Shawn,” thinking that they would get married one day. Later, after they had bought the house, Julie realized that her boyfriend was not the right person for her. Because Julie wanted to move on in her life, she also wanted to sell the house she bought with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend, however, was mad at Julie for breaking up with him, and so refused to agree to sell the house. Because they were not married, Julie could not go to a divorce lawyer, and because they both did not agree to sell, a realtor could not help Julie. Julie felt trapped. Julie then, however, found a partition lawyer and was able to get the house sold so she could move on with her life. A partition lawyer got the job done.

What Are the Steps in the Partition Lawsuit?

The first step to a partition action is to petition the court for a partition of the property. In order to petition the court, a litigant must file a legally valid complaint for partition. As noted above, the litigant must be a co-owner of the subject property in order to have standing to file a partition complaint. (CCP § 872.210.)

Second, after filing the complaint, a litigant must then obtain an interlocutory judgment of partition in the correct procedural form. An interlocutory judgment is a temporary judgment ordered before the close of trial during the litigation of the case. Under Code of Civil Procedure section 872.720, the court must enter an interlocutory judgment when the court finds that the Plaintiff in a partition action is entitled to a partition. In order to obtain an interlocutory judgment, a litigant must establish their right to partition by proving they have an ownership interest in the subject property.

Third, if the court finds that a litigant has an ownership interest in the subject property and grants an interlocutory judgment of partition, the court will then appoint a partition referee to oversee the partition of the property. A partition referee is a neutral third party appointed by and accountable to the court to assist the court in matters related to partition actions. (CCP § 873.510.)

Fourth, Once the referee has provided the court with their report, the court must determine the proper method for partitioning the subject property. The court determines the proper method of partition by determining which method of partition is more equitable.

Fifth, once the court has determined the proper method of partitioning the subject property, the court will then order a final judgment of partition, and the property will be partitioned according to the proper method determined by the court. If the court orders a partition by sale, there must be an accounting to distribute the proceeds of the sale in strict compliance with the requirements of the evidentiary code.

The Pros and Cons of a Partition Action

Like with anything in life, there are "pros" and "cons" to filing a partition action. As such, anyone considering a partition action should carefully consider the benefits and costs ahead of time. In almost every instance, it is advisable that the parties find a way to work out their differences among themselves. Indeed, the Underwood Law Firm, P.C. generally encourages and requires its clients to informally attempt a resolution of the matter prior to bringing a partition lawsuit. When this cannot be done, however, then an owner of real estate should think through the pros and cons, including:


  • Light at the end of the tunnel, and the end of the hostage situation of jointly owned real estate;
  • The assistance of knowledgeable counsel;
  • The formal ability to ensure that all of a party's rights to their real estate are respected through the courts;
  • The recovery of amounts expended for the common benefit of the commonly-owned property
  • The opportunity to recover attorneys' fees and costs;
  • The ability to challenge a difficult party's unreasonable claims to real estate;


  • The continued interaction with a difficult co-owner, which can be emotionally draining;
  • The time and money spent attending to court proceedings;
  • The potential sale of the property to a third-party;
How the Attorneys at Underwood Law Firm Can Help

At any given time, the Underwood Law Firm, P.C. is handling over 100 partition cases throughout California, and so is able to effectively and efficiently provide legal guidance in these situations.

The Underwood Law Firm, P.C. resolves joint ownership problems between all types of property owners from parents and children, siblings, and non-marital partners who own real estate together and need to sever their interests to go their separate ways. The firm assists clients with pre-partition agreements, joint sale agreements, negotiated settlements, negotiations following the filing of a partition action, and all stages of litigation of a partition action. Contact us to learn more.

Client Reviews
“We were in need of a real estate attorney. Eli Underwood provided excellent legal advice and services. He explained everything well and followed through with all important issues that needed attention. We found him to be reliable, courteous, patient and extremely professional. We highly recommend Mr. Underwood without any reservations.” I.S.
"I own a real estate investment company that operates across multiple states (California, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and more), whenever I run into an issue that needs legal attention, Eli is my first call. I've been working with him for years. He is an amazing attorney and I highly recommend him." Thank you for your help Sir!" T.W.
"Mr. Underwood is a fantastic Lawyer with extraordinary ethics. He responds quickly, which is rare these days, and he is very knowledgeable in his craft. It was a pleasure working with him and we will definitely use his services in the future if needed. Thank you for your help Sir!" M.O.
"Eli took our case and controlled every hurdle put before us. I one time commented to him that he must love his job because it seemed that he was always available. When talking about my case to anyone I always bring up where, I believe, the other parties Lawyer tried to take advantage of my wife and me. Eli stopped him in his tracks. On top of it being easy to work with Eli, it was a pleasure to have had him represent us. We were in good hands." E.T
"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.