Hesperia Partition Lawyers

Originally a Spanish land grant, the city of Hesperia was founded in 1781. Hesperia was a slow growing town up until the 1980s, when the town experienced suburban growth. Today the city of Hesperia boasts a hometown essence and affordable housing. According to Redfin, In June 2023, Hesperia home prices were down 8.4% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $420K. On average, homes in Hesperia sell after 38 days on the market compared to 29 days last year. There were 90 homes sold in June this year, down from 110 last year. Hesperia residents who own real estate may face disputes with co-owners. Generally, the best Hesperia 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 action is a lawsuit brought by a property owner seeking the court to force the sale of a jointly owned piece of real property. Typically, partition actions occur when co-owners of real estate have disputes about its ownership and use, and one of them seeks to end their ownership interest. That is, a partition action has no other purpose than to sever the unity of possession between cotenants in a piece of real property. (Rancho Santa Margarita v. Vail (1938) 11 Cal.2d 501, 539.) Currently, partition actions are governed by the provisions set forth in the Code of Civil Procedure section 872.010. These statutes set out a general process by which a property may be partitioned. 

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 Hesperia Partition Lawyer will be able to share information on this process with you.

What Are the Steps in a Partition Action?

First, a partition action is filed. A partition action can be filed if one co-owner of real property or a piece of real estate wishes to sell the property or piece of real estate in question but the other co-owners or co-tenants do not wish to sell their ownership rights. 

Second, the court may appoint a court referee to oversee the sale of the property in question. The sales procedure includes that all parties agree to the terms and conditions of the sale in writing. If the parties can not agree, as partition actions are usually very contested issues, then the referee that the court appointed may recommend terms and conditions to the court. Then the court will hold a hearing to decide whether or not to accept those terms and conditions. 

Third, in California, the property’s value will be appraised via a third party or another property appraisal with no ties to any of the parties. While this is not required in all states, it is recommended to make sure that all parties are on the same metaphorical page as to the potential sale proceeds of the property in question. 

Fourth, the referee will conduct the sale in the method most agreeable to all of the party’s goals. This can be via a public auction or a private sale. Regardless of the specific method of partition by sale, the court will determine if the sale was “fair.” If it is decided that the property’s sale proceeds had a lack of proper notice, the sale amount is not within reasonable the value of the property, or if the proceeds were unfair- the court would rule that the property will be up for sale again. 

Lastly, the court will order that the proceeds of the sale, minus any court litigated or approved offsets or costs, will be distributed equitably amongst all of the co-owners or people with interest in the property. A top Hesperia Partition lawyer will be familiar with the process.

Can You Mediate a Partition Action?

A partition action can always be resolved informally at any time prior to the first day of trial, or entry of judgment. In fact, in numerous instances, just filing the partition itself leads the other party to seek a resolution between them. We always encourage the parties to talk throughout every phase of the process, as that can lead to the best outcomes for everyone.

From our perspective, every piece of litigation is just part of a larger “negotiation.” In any negotiation, the party who has the best leverage is usually able to achieve a more favorable outcome. The lawsuit provides the client with more leverage because they have more options available to them than without the prospect of a resolution from a judge. As such, all that a lawsuit does is provide one party with more leverage in the negotiation about how to resolve the dispute. For this reason, the best way to informally resolve a dispute is to combine discussions with active litigation, so that the matter can be quickly resolved without unnecessary expense. Throughout the process, our attorneys are in touch with our clients about their options and the prospects for informal resolution through mediation or negotiation. A knowledgeable Hesperia Partition Attorney will be able to give you good advice on these issues.

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 Hesperia Partition Attorney will be intimately familiar with these matters.

A Partition Case Study: Nyberg v. Moacanin (2020): Partitioning Professionally

There is no doubt that litigation is an adversarial process. Even with how stressful lawsuits can be though, it is important for parties to maintain a professional demeanor. Opposition and confrontation are expected in litigation, but there is a limit to how hostile a party can be.

Parties will inevitably clash over issues in litigation, since that is simply how the system is designed. Even still, parties must always have legal support for their actions. They cannot attack the opposing side without explanations. Courts will also not look too kindly upon attempts to improperly delay litigation.

What Led This Case to the Court of Appeal?

Four siblings inherited the property at issue in Nyberg v. Moacanin (2020) Cal.App.Unpub. WL 2487043. (Id., at 1.) Each sibling had a twenty-five percent ownership interest in the property. (Id.) The siblings were Frank Nyberg, John Nyberg, Peter Moacanin, and Catherine Francis. (Id.)

In September 2017, Frank and John (the Nybergs) sued Peter and Catherine for partition of the property. (Id.) They also sued for breach of fiduciary duty and constructive fraud. (Id.) At the time, Peter was representing himself. (Id.) The parties tried to mediate but were unsuccessful. (Id.)

Even though the court advised Peter to hire an attorney, Peter did not hire an attorney for ten months. (Id.) He finally hired an attorney in August 2018. (Id.)

In March 2018, while Peter was still self-represented, the Nybergs moved for summary adjudication on the partition, to appoint a referee, and for an award of attorney’s fees. (Id.) Christine and Peter filed notices of non-opposition to the notice. (Id.) The trial court granted summary adjudication and ordered the property to be sold. (Id.) The trial court, however, denied the request for attorney’s fees, holding that it was too early to award attorney’s fees. (Id.) The trial court also denied a referee appointment. (Id.) In June 2018, the trial court entered an interlocutory judgment for partition. (Id.)

Afterwards, the Nybergs tried to sell the property, but Peter refused to cooperate. (Id.) Several units of the property did not have tenants, and Peter demanded that the property be fully leased before sale. (Id.)

In July 2018, the Nybergs motioned to appoint a receiver. (Id.) Peter opposed the motion, while Christine did not. (Id.) In August 2018, the Nybergs took the motion off the calendar because the parties signed off on a final listing agreement to sell the property. (Id.)

Later, the Nybergs moved for attorney’s fees and costs. (Id., at 2.) The Nybergs contended that since the parties inherited the property, they have not been able to agree on the management, use, or any financial aspects of the property. (Id.) The Nybergs stated that Peter’s lack of cooperation and refusal to sell was what made them motion for summary adjudication. (Id.) They also claimed that Peter delayed the sale after the trial court’s partition order, which forced them to motion for a receiver appointment. (Id.)

Nicole Gutierrez, the Nybergs’ attorney, testified to the numerous delay tactics and verbal abuse she endured from Peter. (Id.) Gutierrez said that when Peter was unrepresented, she was forced to spend dozens of hours emailing and calling him, during which Peter was uncooperative. (Id.)

Christine and Peter both filed oppositions to the Nybergs’ motion. (Id.) Peter provided multiple objections to the Nybergs’ and Gutierrez’s statements. (Id.)

In September 2018, the trial court ruled on the motion for attorney’s fees in favor of the Nybergs. (Id.) The trial court found the Nybergs’ testimony to be credible and held that Peter gave no reasonable explanation for his behavior. (Id.)

The trial court concluded that the total attorney’s fees and costs the parties incurred was 184,847.52 dollars. (Id., at 3.) The trial court apportioned $29,650.37 each to Frank, John, and Christine. (Id.) The trial court apportioned $95,896.43 to Peter. (Id.) Peter appealed the trial court’s attorney’s fees award, and the Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s judgment. (Id.)

Nyberg’s Holding: Stay Logical in Litigation

Nyberg is a cautionary tale on failing to stay professional in litigation. Most of the time, courts frown upon actions that appear to have no rationale besides prolonging litigation or bullying the other side.

Generally, attorney’s fees incurred for the common benefit are part of the costs of partition which are apportioned among the parties according to their ownership interests. (Id.) California law also allows for the trial court to adjust the allocation of costs depending on the circumstances. (Id.)

Peter argued there was insufficient evidence to support the trial court’s attorney fees award. (Id.) The trial court’s award for attorney’s fees was based on Peter’s communications with Gutierrez, the Nybergs’ motion for summary adjudication, and the motion to appoint a receiver. (Id.)

Guterriez testified at trial that she had to spend dozens of hours dealing with Peter’s lack of cooperation. (Id.) Meanwhile, Peter testified that he only spent about an hour communicating with Guterriez. (Id.) The trial court did not find Peter’s testimony credible since Peter was self-represented for the first ten months of the lawsuit. (Id.)

Guterriez also testified that Peter refused to hire representation, even though Peter told Guterriez that he could afford an attorney. (Id.) Peter also yelled at Guterriez and threatened her in their communications. (Id., at 5.)

The Court of Appeal held there was more than enough evidence to support the trial court’s finding that Peter’s behavior caused unnecessary wasted time. (Id.) The Court of Appeal also concluded that Peter’s objections had no legal or evidentiary support. (Id.)

Next was the Nybergs’ motion for summary adjudication on the partition. (Id.) While Peter had adamantly opposed the Nybergs’ right to partition, he did not oppose the Nybergs’ motion for summary adjudication. (Id.)

Peter testified he did not oppose summary adjudication because he was satisfied with putting the property out on the market. (Id.) But when the Nybergs asked Peter to agree to the partition, Peter refused and offered no explanation. (Id.) The Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s attorney’s fees award for the summary adjudication motion. (Id., at 7.)

Finally, attorney’s fees were awarded for the Nybergs’ motion to appoint a receiver. (Id.) The trial court initially denied the Nybergs’ request for a referee so the parties could agree on a listing agent and avoid any referee costs. (Id.)

When the Nybergs talked to Peter about selling the property, however, Peter said he wanted to lease the property fully before selling it. (Id.) The trial court concluded that Peter’s behavior was an attempt to delay the partition process. (Id.) Furthermore, when the Nybergs motion to appoint a receiver, Peter did not oppose that motion and failed to provide a reasonable explanation for why. (Id.)

Additionally, Guterriez testified that the trial court did not appoint a receiver because the trial court expected the parties to move forward in collaboration with the property’s sale. (Id.) Guterriez also stated that Peter suggested a third-party take over leasing the property even though the parties already had an exclusive leasing agreement with someone else. (Id.)

In response, Peter failed to provide any explanation defending his behavior. (Id., at 8.) The Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s attorney’s fees order. (Id.)

Nyberg shows how every action in litigation needs legal support and professionalism. While being adversarial in litigation is expected, that is not an excuse to simply oppose everything the other side does without rhyme or reason. There must always be a legal rationale for one’s actions in litigation.

How Underwood Law Firm Can Help You

As seen in Nyberg, parties must remain professional and provide legal support for their actions throughout litigation. Lawsuits can be very emotional and trying for all parties involved. Even still, it is the parties’ responsibility to ensure that their behavior remains appropriate. Otherwise, the parties risk very unfavorable court rulings and even sanctions.

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 trying to plan a partition order, or just have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office.

Learn more here.

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