Hawthorne Partition Lawyers

The City of Hawthorne was founded by B.L. Harding and H.D. Lombard in 1905 as the Hawthorne Improvement Company. The city's name was inspired by B.L. Harding's daughter's favorite author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, who famously wrote The Scarlet Letter. To persuade people to buy homes in the city, the Hawthorne Improvement Company built several factories to show that there was work in the city. Today, Hawthorne is home to over 88,000 residents. According to Redfin, In June 2023, Hawthorne home prices were down 12.4% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $805K. On average, homes in Hawthorne sell after 46 days on the market compared to 25 days last year. There were 29 homes sold in June this year, up from 22 last year. As house sales in Hawthorne are rising, residents of Hawthorne may find themselves wanting to sell and get the best value for their real estate, which can lead to disputes for those who jointly own homes Generally, the best Hawthorne Partition Lawyers usually find partition action to be the best remedy for disputing co-owners in four broad categories:

  • Family owned real estate where only one party wants to sell;
  • Former romantic partners who jointly own real estate where only one party wants to sell;
  • Jointly owned real estate where only one party wants to sell;
  • Partnership real estate where only one party wants to sell;
What Is a Partition Action in California?

A partition lawsuit requires real estate to be sold regardless of the requests of the other title owners. The purpose of a partition action is to permanently end all disputes and remove all obstacles to the free enjoyment of land by one person. (McGillivray v. Evans (1864) 27 Cal.92.) These types of actions can be brought for all types of real estate from houses to farms to office buildings to apartment buildings. Similarly, partition actions are available all types of ownership situations from joint tenants to tenants-in-common to partnership property to property jointly owned by former spouses.

Historically, the term "partition" comes from the basic word to break into "parts" as in physically dividing real estate in half. For example, if two siblings inherited ten acres of farmland, the property could historically be divided into five acres a piece for each of them. As most people now live in single-family homes, which cannot simply be "split in half," courts will instead order that the property be sold and the proceeds, or equity, be "split in half." The best Hawthorne Partition Lawyer will be able to share information on this process with you.

What Are the Steps in a Partition Action?

Generally, a partition action has four stages, which include (1) the filing of the lawsuit (2) an appraisal of the Property under the Partition of Real Property Act, (3) the determination of the parties’ interests, and appointment of a referee to sell the property, and (4) the division of the proceeds from the sale.

In California partition actions, the court must enter an interlocutory judgment where the court finds that the Plaintiff in a partition action is entitled to a partition. (CCP § 872.720.) The interlocutory judgment “determines the interests of the parties in the property and, unless it is to be later determined, the manner of partition.” (CCP § 872.720.) A top Hawthorne Partition lawyer will be familiar with the process.

Can You Mediate a Partition Action?

Generally, anyone considering filing a lawsuit should consider all of their alternatives, including an informal resolution of the problem. This can take the form of a discussion with the other owner or owners about agreeing to sell the property, negotiating with the co-owner to create a formula to divide the proceeds from the sale, or retaining a lawyer to engage in a mediation with the other owners.

Throughout the partition process, and even on the day of trial, any of the owners can make an agreement about the sale of the property. This can happen through a phone call, through negotiations between the parties' lawyers, or through a mediation session with a retired judge or trained mediator. There are many benefits from a mediation session, including confidentiality provisions contained in the law in Evidence Code sections 1115 through 1129.

Specifically, Evidence Code section 1119, subdivision (a), provides "no evidence of anything said or any admission made for the purpose of, in the course of, or pursuant to, a mediation or a mediation consultation is admissible or subject to discovery, and disclosure of the evidence shall not be compelled in any arbitration, administrative adjudication, civil action, or other noncriminal proceeding in which, pursuant to law, testimony can be compelled to be given." A knowledgeable Hawthorne Partition Attorney will be able to give you good advice on these issues.

What Are Claims for “Contribution”?

Before the sales proceeds are distributed among the parties, a court-ordered accounting will determine the charges and credits upon each co-owner’s interest. These credits are taken out of the net proceeds before the balance is divided equally. (Southern Adjustment Bureau, Inc. v. Nelson (1964) 230 Cal.App.2d 539 (“Nelson”).) 

“When a cotenant makes advances from his own pocket to preserve the common estate, his investment in the property increases by the entire amount advanced. Upon sale of the estate, he is entitled to his reimbursement before the balance is equally divided.” (Nelson, 230 Cal.App.2d, at p. 541, citing William v. Koyer (1914) 168 Cal.369.)

As such, a party to a partition action must produce and gather their evidence and make sure that it is presented to the court so they can receive full credit for the value that they have added to the property. While a party may have a right to these credits under the law, ultimately, they will not be counted unless they can be presented in the proper form. An experienced Hawthorne Partition Attorney will be intimately familiar with these matters.

A Partition Case Study: Allen v. Reifman (2010)

Generally a complaint must set forth the essential facts of the case with reasonable particularity to inform the defendant of the nature, source, and extent of his cause of action. (Semole v. Sansoucie (1972) 28 Cal.App.3d 714, 719.) Before allowing further amendments, the court must determine whether the plaintiff has shown “in what manner he [or she] can amend [the] complaint and how that amendment will change the legal effect of [the] pleading.” (Goodman v. Kennedy (1976) 18 Cal.3d 335, 349.) Leave to amend a complaint should be denied where the facts are not in dispute and the nature of the claim is clear, but no liability exists under substantive law.” (Lawrence v. Bank of America (1985)163 Cal.App.3d 431, 436 (Lawrence); Rutter § 7:132.) Allen v. Reifman (2010) WL 685326 demonstrates how a court will analyze the revisions of a complaint in relation to substantive law to decide whether or not leave to amend should be granted.

In Allen v. Reifman, Stanley Franklin Allen (Stanley) appealed from the judgment of dismissal entered in favor of Irving Reifman and Morris Mainstain after the trial court sustained without leave to amend Reifman and Mainstain's demurrer to Allen's amended complaint for fraud and to quiet title.

Stanley’s claims arose from an earlier civil action. Originally, Ingrid Allen (Ingrid) initiated a partition action on July 1, 2003 with respect to a multi-unit residential property located at 2949 Raymond Avenue, Los Angeles, following the deaths of several of the property's co-owners. Stanley was the first cousin of Ingrid and a tenant at the Raymond property, but was not identified as an owner on the deed submitted in the partition action and was not named a party to the action. On December 9, 2004, the trial court entered an order confirming the sale of the Raymond property. On April 4, 2005 the trial court confirmed the partition and approved the final report of the partition referee. The law firm of Reifman & Altman represented the partition referee; Mainstain, an attorney with the firm, was counsel of record.

Stanley filed an unverified complaint on April 11, 2008 and an unverified amended complaint on August 15, 2008, naming more than two dozen defendants (including Reifman and Altman). The amended complaint was an action for fraud and to quiet title. Stanley alleged that he was the true owner of the Raymond property and that the various defendants were aware of his interest in the property and knowingly failed to include him as a party in the partition action. The amended complaint asserted that Reifman and Mainstain should be charged with malpractice because they purportedly made false statements to the court during their representation of the partition referee. Nowhere in the complaint, aside from the caption in the pleading, were Reifman or Mainstain mentioned in the allegations relating to claims of fraud or an action to quiet title.

The trial court granted Reifman and Mainstain’s demurrer and motion to strike Stanley’s amended complaint without leave to amend because the complaint failed to state a claim and did not suggest a possibility of success if amended. Stanley filed a motion for reconsideration, the court denied the motion, and Stanley timely filed an appeal.

The Second District Court of Appeal explained that Stanley’s appellate briefs did not focus on the merits of the trial court's decision regarding the demurrers filed by Reifman and Mainstain. Instead, Stanley reiterated his claim that Ingrid and her attorney intentionally lied to the trial court in the partition action, fraudulently asserted an interest in the Raymond property, and wrongfully excluded Stanley from the case. Stanley sought to set aside the partition and sale of the property, but did not aim to reverse the trial court's dismissal of his action against Reifman and Mainstain. The Second District Court of Appeal concluded that due to Stanley’s failure to adequately address or support any issues related to his claim of legal malpractice or fraud against Reifman and Mainstain, he waived any challenge to the dismissal of his action.

Furthermore, the Court of Appeal explained that a crucial aspect of any legal malpractice claim is the establishment of a duty by the lawyer to the claimant to use such skill, prudence, and diligence as members of his or her profession commonly possess and exercise. (Coscia v. McKenna & Cuneo (2001) 25 Cal.4th 1194, 1199; Chang v. Lederman (2009) 172 Cal.App.4th 67, 76.) Stanley acknowledged that Reifman and Mainstain acted solely as attorneys for the court-appointed partition referee, who are generally not obligated to fulfill a duty toward a claimant who is not a client or former client. As a result, the Court of Appeal concluded that Stanley’s amended complaint failed to state a cause of action for legal malpractice against Reifman and Mainstain.

Regarding the potential claims of fraud or quiet title, which Stanley indicated was the sole bases for his action, the Court of Appeal concluded that Stanley failed to plead facts sufficient to constitute any cause of action against Reifman and Mainstain. Stanley did not allege that Reifman or Mainstain knowingly made false misrepresentations upon which he reasonably relied as required to plead fraud. Stanley also did not claim that Reifman or Mainstain asserted any adverse claim of right, title, or interest in the Raymond property as required for a quiet title action. Consequently, Allen had not pleaded sufficient facts to constitute any cause of action against Reifman and Mainstain in relation to fraud or quiet title. Before granting further amendments to a complaint, it is necessary to determine whether the plaintiff has demonstrated how the complaint can be amended and how such amendments would change the legal effect of the pleading. Because Stanley failed to present a viable way to cure the defects in his pleading or suggested any possible allegations to establish a valid claim against either attorney, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's decision to sustain the demurrers without leave to amend.

How the Underwood Law Firm Can Help

In order to successfully file a partition action, a claim must be sufficiently pleaded. While leave to amend is liberally granted, an amended complaint must correct the deficiencies of the original complaint. In a partition action, its imperative that counsel provide the facts and relevant law necessary for a complaint to pass the pleading stage. Underwood Law Firm. P.C. has extensive experience and expertise in partition actions for both plaintiffs and defendants. Please contact Underwood Law Firm, P.C., for an initial consultation if you are considering filing a partition action or find yourself defending one.

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