Folsom Partition Lawyers

Folsom is in Sacramento County, about 22 miles northeast of the state capital of Sacramento. The city is well known for having California’s second prison, Folsom State Prison, completed in 1880 and popularized in Johnny Cash’s song, “Folsom Prison Blues,” as well as various other historic attractions and sites. As a city with deep roots and traditions, residents of Folsom often find themselves tied down to property jointly owned with another person, maybe a relative. Sometimes, these residents want to move from a chaotic situation and start fresh someplace else with the equity from the jointly owned property but find that a co-owner is unwilling to pay fair market value for their share. In such a scenario, speaking with a Folsom Partition Attorney can help. There are at least four scenarios where a Folsom Partition Lawyer can be helpful:

  • Boyfriend-Girlfriend co-ownership of property;
  • Sibling-Sibling co-ownership of property;
  • Parent-Child co-ownership of property;
  • Investor-Investor co-ownership of property;
What is a Partition Action in California?

A partition action is an action brought by a co-owner of a piece of real property against another co-owner, seeking to divide the property according to the respective interests of the co-owners. In order to establish a right to a partition, a party must show that they have some ownership interest in the subject property. Under Code of Civil Procedure section 872.210, any owner of an estate of inheritance, an estate for life, or an estate for years in real property where such property or estate is owned by several persons concurrently or in successive estates may bring a partition action. (CCP § 872.210.) Therefore, a co-tenant has an absolute right to partition. (Formosa Corp. v. Rogers (1951), 108 Cal.App.2d 397.) At the Underwood Law Firm, our attorneys are more than familiar with partition actions and the step-by-step process of pursuing a partition.

Generally, a partition action cannot be stopped absent a valid waiver. Virtually universally, the instances in which a court has found a valid waiver have involved some sort of written contract or adverse possession of property. As such, many parties try to stop a partition action through mediation, or a buy-out agreement. In most instances, the parties to a partition action can benefit from creative lawyering by those who are familiar with the different options for resolving real estate disputes. The best Folsom Partition Lawyers will be able to share information on this process with you.

What Are the Steps in a Partition Action?

Generally, the first step in the partition lawsuit process is not a lawsuit, but an earnest attempt to resolve the matter informally, such as through a partition agreement. Only when it is clear that litigation is the only option, is it clear that a partition lawsuit is appropriate.

When it is clear that a partition lawsuit is necessary, then the process begins with the filing of a complaint in the county where the property is located. There are several technical requirements for the partition complaint, and many important steps that must be taken during the lawsuit to ensure that the process is managed effectively.

In a partition lawsuit, there are generally four different steps. First, the court determines each party's ownership interests. Second, the court will decide on the manner of sale. Third, the court will order the property be sold. Fourth, the proceeds from the sale will be divided between the parties based on their relative contributions to the property.

While some may believe that inherited property cannot be partitioned, this is incorrect. Instead, when the property is owned as the result of an inheritance, there may be an additional step for an appraisal, and a right of first refusal, as provided by the Uniform Partition of Heirs Act. Under this act, where a co-tenant requests partition by sale, the law gives the non-partition owner the option to buy all of the interests of the co-tenants who requested the sale. A top Folsom Partition Lawyer will be familiar with the process.

What Are Claims for “Contribution”?

Code of Civil Procedure section 874.140 states that the “court may, in all cases, order allowance, accounting, contribution, or other compensatory adjustments among the parties according to the principles of equity.” 

The court in Hunter v. Schultz (1966) 240 Cal.App.2d 24 stated that the payments for interest, taxes, and insurance made by any co-tenant could be subject to reimbursement. These claims for reimbursement are commonly known as “offsets” in a partition action. 

Further, the court under Milian v. De Leon (1986) 181 Cal.App.3d 1185, announced that a co-tenant who expends money for the preservation of the property, or with the [acceptance] of their co-tenant(s), is entitled to reimbursement for those expenditures before the division of the proceeds among the property owners. 

That is, the general rule is that compensatory adjustments are appropriate for improvements that enhance the value of the property for all owners’ benefit. (see Wallace v. Daley (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 1028, 1035-1036.) An experienced Folsom Partition Attorney will be intimately familiar with these matters.

Can You Recover Attorneys’ Fees in a Partition Action?

Code of Civil Procedure, section 874.010 states that “[t]he costs of partition include: (a) [r]easonable attorney’s fees incurred or paid by a party for the common benefit.” 

Interestingly, the costs of partition can also include reasonable expenses necessarily incurred by a party for the common benefit in prosecuting or defending other actions or proceedings for the protection, confirmation, or perfection of title, setting the boundaries, or making a survey of the property. (CCP § 874.020.) 

That attorney’s fees are considered “costs” associated with a partition action is important because Section 874.040 goes on to state the “court shall apportion the costs of partition among the parties in proportion to their interests or make such other apportionment as may be equitable.” A knowledgeable Folsom Partition Attorney will be able to give you good advice on these issues.

A Partition Case Study: Kraft v. Krausch

It is absolutely vital that a party fully understands the requirements of the appeals process, as that is the party’s second chance for its case. The appeals court may have its own rules that differ from the trial court, and it is imperative for parties to follow those rules if they wish to argue their cases before an appellate court.

Parties should not leave the appellate court grasping for straws. If there are facts and direct evidence that can support one’s claim, they must be included in the record and pointed out to the court. Appellate courts, and really all courts, do not appreciate arguments that are not supported by the record. Even if the arguments are all true, there must be some support for courts to consider the arguments, or else the courts have wide discretion to find the arguments meritless.

Kraft v. Krausch, Cal.App.Unpub. (2003) WL 22430209, is a cautionary tale of how a case can die when the party fails to cite the record. Though the trial court could have very well made the errors that the appellant alleged, it is not the appellate court’s job to find the evidence for the party. Parties should be doing all they can to ensure that their arguments are as persuasive as possible before the appellate courts, but not every party has equipped themselves to meet this burden. Such errors, while unfortunate for the appellant, are totally avoidable.

The property at issue in Kraft was held in joint tenancy by Kraft and Krausch. (Id.) Kraft sued Krausch seeking quiet title to the property, or alternatively, a partition by sale and reimbursement. (Id.)

The trial court found that the parties intended the property to be held in a true joint tenancy. (Id.) The trial court also found that the parties had an agreement where if the property was sold to a third party, Krausch would have her down payment of 60,000 dollars reimbursed before any sale proceeds would be distributed. (Id.) Additionally, the trial court found that the parties never had any agreement where Kraft would be reimbursed for his contributions to the costs of the property if the parties decided to sell the property. (Id.)

The trial court then calculated that each party held an interest of 95,000 dollars in the property. (Id.) The trial court concluded that Krausch should be allowed to purchase Kraft’s 95,000 dollar interest rather than sell the property to a third party. (Id.) Kraft appealed, and the Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s judgment. (Id.)

An interesting note about Kraft is that information regarding the trial court’s decision is sparse. This is because Kraft failed to include many aspects of the trial in the record on appeal. Much of the Court of Appeal’s knowledge of the trial court’s decisions comes from the trial court’s two-page summary of its findings, which does not have much detail on the trial court’s analysis. Most of the time, the Court of Appeal is guessing at the trial court’s reasoning, which did not bode well for Kraft. If Kraft wished to stand a chance on appeal, he had to at least do the bare minimum of including evidence for his position in the record.

Kraft first claimed that, where there is a so-called true joint tenancy, courts have found that there is an implied or expressed agreement to own and divide the property equally no matter the contribution. (Id., at 2.) Due to this, Kraft argued that the trial court erred in finding that there was another agreement where the parties would own and divide the property in an unequal manner. (Id.)

The Court of Appeal noted that Kraft’s alleged error did not appear on the face of the record. (Id.) The Court of Appeal then rejected Kraft’s arguments based on the facts presented before them, writing:

“The court may, in all cases, order allowance, accounting, contribution, or other compensatory adjustment among the parties according to the principles of equity.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 872.140.) Contrary to Kraft's suggestion that the court's ruling was “outside the bounds of the legal criteria,” that is, solely an error of law, it appears the court based its finding on the $60,000 reimbursement on the terms of an express agreement between the parties. Evidence concerning that agreement is not part of the judgment roll. (Id.)

Since Kraft failed to cite to the record, the Court of Appeal had to guess at the trial court’s reasoning, and the end result was not in Kraft’s favor. (Id.)

Kraft then argued that the trial court erred by letting Krausch buy the property at a fixed price rather than through competitive bidding. (Id.) Again, the Court of Appeal had to guess at the trial court’s reasoning, writing:

It appears the court may have acted under Code of Civil Procedure sections 873.910 et seq., enacted in 1976 (Stats.1976, ch. 73, pp. 125-126), which provide an alternative to a division or sale of the real property subject to partition. Under these provisions, and upon agreement of the parties, one party may acquire the interest of the other at its appraised value. (4 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law (9th ed. 1987) Real Property, § 304, p. 500.) The facts surrounding the court's decision to permit Krausch to purchase the property at a fixed price, including its finding regarding the appraised value, are not included in the judgment roll. (Id.)

Since Kraft did not include evidence about the trial court’s analysis which could support his claim, the Court of Appeal presumed that the trial court found enough facts to support its judgment. (Id.) The Court of Appeal rejected Kraft’s second argument and affirmed the trial court’s judgment. (Id., at 3.)

Kraft illustrates just how vital citing to the record is. Appellate courts should not be doing the party’s homework for them. If the trial court erred, it is on the appealing party to do the legwork, show the evidence, and make the arguments. Kraft may very well have been correct that the trial court erred, but he failed to meet the basic requirements to support his claims.

Any court, whether it’s appellate or trial, should not be left to deal with imaginary arguments. Especially for appellate courts, who are hesitant to overturn a trial court’s judgment and often presume that the trial court got it right, unless there is compelling evidence otherwise. Kraft shows how a party’s lack of preparation can end in disaster. 

How the Underwood Law Firm Can Help

As seen in Kraft partition law is full of rules and requirements a party must meet even before arriving at a trial or a hearing. Certain courts may even have their own special rules that must be followed. It is important for parties to understand how to get to the starting line in the first place.

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

Learn more here.

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.