Shasta County Partition Lawyers

Shasta County was one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood. The county was named after Mount Shasta; the name is derived from the English equivalent for the Shasta people. Today Shasta County’s population is 182,155 as of the 2020 census, up from 177,223 from the 2010 census. According to Redfin, In June 2023, Shasta County home prices were down 3.7% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $375K. On average, homes in Shasta County sell after 20 days on the market compared to 12 days last year. There were 201 homes sold in June this year, down from 284 last year. As a town with great historical roots, residents of Shasta County often own property with others due to inheritance, which can lead to disputes between co-owners. Often, Shasta County Partition Lawyers find that joint ownership problems fall into four broad categories:

  • Father/Mother-Son/Daughter tenants in common in real estate;
  • Brother-Sister shared tenants in common in real estate;
  • Investor-Investor shared tenants in common in real estate; and
  • Non-Married Partners shared tenants in common in real estate;
What Is a Partition Action in California?

Generally, partition is any division of real property between co-owners, where each co-owner obtains an ownership interest. A partition action is the forced sale of real property by a co-owner under the court’s supervision. Partition merely determines and allocates to the parties their respective interests in the property. (Cunha v. Hughes (1898) 122 Cal. 111.)

In the partitioning of property, the common interests in the property are segregated or terminated. (Summers v. Superior Court (Wan Fen Tan) 24 Cal.App.5th 138.) Partitions are generally favored by the and may occur by an agreement between the co-owners or by a judgment in an action. Typically, a partition may be made by either a physical division or sale of the property. in many modern transactions, a partition of the property by sale is preferable since often times, a division of the property will result in parcels that are not equal to the value of the whole property before the division. (Cummings v. Dessel (2017) 13 Cal.App.5th 589, 597.) Also, a “physical division may be impossible due to zoning regulations or may be highly impractical.” (Butte Creek Island Ranch v. Crim (1982) 136 Cal.App.3d 360, 365.) The best Shasta County 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 Shasta County 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 Shasta County Partition Attorney will be able to give you good advice on these issues.

What Are Claims for “Contribution”?

An action for partition may include an accounting so that the respective rights of the parties can be adjusted and settled. (Lazzarevich v. Lazzarevich, (1952) 39 Cal. 2d 48, 50–51.) A cotenant who has advanced fund to pay common expenses is entitled to reimbursement from the sale proceeds before the balance is divided and distributed to the cotenants. (Southern Adjustment Bureau, Inc. v. Nelson (1964) 230 Cal. App. 2d 539, 541.) A cotenant out of possession can require the cotenant in possession to account for rents and profits or other compensatory adjustment in the division of sale proceeds. (CCP § 872.430.) An experienced Shasta County Partition Attorney will be intimately familiar with these matters.

Partition Case Study: Pittman v. Vau (2018)

There are many different types of law out in the world. Even though different fields of law may not seem to have all that much in common, you may be surprised at how transferable many legal concepts are between the different types of law. This is especially true in litigation, where most litigation proceedings have similar procedures and rules.

Legal arguments in partition lawsuits may not be simply restricted to partition law. Oftentimes, judges may borrow analogous law from other legal fields to supplement their analysis and reasoning. This is something parties must consider as well, especially if it is helpful to their case.

What Led This Case to the Court of Appeal?

The properties at issue in Pittman v. Vau (2018) Cal.App.Unpub WL 1981108 were the subject of probate proceedings. (Id., at 1.) Traci Pittman’s mother, Raynette Cox, died in October 2005, leaving behind a fifty percent interest in Nor-Cal Investments and several other property interests. (Id.) Pittman’s father, Jack Cox, owned the remaining fifty percent. (Id.) Tom Cariveaux was the administrator of Raynette Cox’s estate. (Id.)

In September 2009, Cariveaux entered into two agreements with Jack. (Id.) One dissolved Nor-Cal and the other was a management agreement for certain assets in the estate. (Id.) In July 2010, Raynette Cox’s estate was distributed. (Id.) As a result, multiple trusts were created with Pittman and her sisters, Debbie Harrison and Kerri Vau, as trustees. (Id.) Jack continued to operate the commonly owned agricultural properties. (Id.)

In February 2011, Pittman sued for partition and accounting of the commonly owned properties. (Id., at 2.) The parties eventually entered into a settlement agreement for the partition claim and left the accounting claims for trial. (Id.)

In April 2015, the trial court entered judgment in Pittman’s favor. (Id.) Afterwards, Jack and Vau filed a motion to recover their costs they incurred for the partition’s common benefit. (Id.) Pittman requested to join the request, since she also sought to recover costs she incurred for the partition’s common benefit.

After a hearing, the trial court awarded Jack and Vau their fees and costs based on the ownership interests in the properties. (Id.) The trial court also denied Pittman’s request. (Id.) The trial court entered judgment accordingly, and Pittman appealed. (Id.) The Court of Appeal reversed and remanded the trial court’s judgment. (Id.)

Pittman’s Holding: Legal Reasoning With a Different Type of Law

Pittman argued that the trial court should have included her fees and costs incurred for the partition’s common benefit. (Id.) For the apportionment of fees, the trial court’s judgment is assumed correct unless it is found to be unreasonable. (Id., at 3.)

Jack and Vau argued that there was no legal basis for Pittman to join their motion. (Id., at 4.) Jack and Vau claimed that, not only was the joinder untimely, but Pittman was seeking a different form of relief. (Id.)

Jack and Vau, however, did not have authority to support their argument that Pittman needed to seek similar relief to join them. (Id.) The relevant issue was whether joinder would be appropriate and the person joining is necessary for the court to resolve the matter. (Id.)

The Court of Appeal also used a series of divorce cases in the court’s analysis on the issue of Pittman’s joinder. (Id.) The Court of Appeal ruled joinder would be appropriate, writing:

“Further . . . we find useful a marital dissolution line of cases. Specifically, in Schnabel v. Superior Court (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 758, 762–763 (Schnabel), the trial court denied the wife's motion to join in dissolution proceedings . . . The reviewing court, in reversing, explained as follows: ‘Rules of court dealing with joinder are written in the permissive ‘may’ rather than the mandatory ‘shall.’ . . .In an extremely small number of cases joinder is the only reasonable alternative. This is such a case.’ (IbId.) . . . Despite the factual differences, we find this reasoning persuasive in our case. The governing statute, section 874.040, commands the trial court to apportion the costs and fees of partition ‘among the parties in proportion to their interests or make such other apportionment as may be equitable.’ This simply cannot be accomplished in any meaningful way without plaintiff's involvement in these proceedings, making joinder in our case ‘the only reasonable alternative.’ (See Schnabel, supra, 30 Cal.App.4th at p. 763.)” (Id.)

Though Pittman’s joinder was untimely, the Court of Appeal did not find that this was important. (Id.) Jack and Vau’s motion was what initiated Pittman’s response, so Jack and Vau could not claim undue prejudice. (Id.) Additionally, there was nothing in the law that required a noticed motion for apportioning fees. (Id.) The Court of Appeal also ruled that the trial court should have considered Pittman’s evidence, writing:

“Thus, even assuming the trial court is appropriately concerned about allowing plaintiff a net recovery against Cox and Vau notwithstanding her initial failure to move for fees and costs, the fact remains that, based on the clear language of section 874.040, plaintiff's motion and evidence is entitled to consideration . . . In this case, it does not appear from the record that plaintiff's evidence received the court's meaningful consideration.” (Id., at 5.)

The Court of Appeal concluded that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to consider Pittman’s motion and failing to award Pittman her costs while awarding Jack and Vau their costs. (Id.) The Court of Appeal reversed and remanded the trial court’s judgment. (Id.)

Pittman demonstrates how a different area of law can be used for legal reasoning in partition cases. Though the Court of Appeal borrowed concepts from divorce laws, an area with completely different facts, the concepts were still analogous and persuasive enough for the court to use in its final ruling.

Pittman shows how parties must be prepared to deal with legal reasoning outside of their lawsuit’s field. Courts may use other areas of law to make judgments, and it is vital for parties to understand how this can affect their case.

How Underwood Law Firm Can Help You

As seen in Pittman, parties must not be restricted in their law field. Even with partitions, which usually have specific laws, parties can look towards other avenues of law to make legal arguments. Courts themselves often do this. The key, no matter what, is to be persuasive.

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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