Whittier Partition Lawyers
The land encompassing the City of Whittier was a part of a Spanish land grant given to Manuel Nieto, a Spanish solider who received the grant as a reward for his service in 1784. Residents of the city named the city after a Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier. During that time, the land was used for agriculture, and home to pampas grass, and citrus and walnut trees. Today, Whittier is home to over 87,000 residents with a majority of its housing units being owner-occupied, which suggests that many homes are jointly owned. When it comes to the selling of real estate, residents may face disputes with co-owners. Generally, a partition action is the best remedy for disputing co-owners in four broad categories:
- Split real estate dispute;
- Brother-Sister real estate dispute;
- Investor-Investor real estate dispute; and
- Significant other real estate dispute
A joint tenancy occurs when two or more persons own property with equal shares. When a deed states joint tenancy interests, there is "a prima facie case that the property is actually owned in joint tenancy. There is a presumption that ownership is stated in the deed and the burden is upon the party who seeks to rebut the presumption. (Weak v. Weak (1962) 202 Cal.App.2d 632, 638.) Recently, the California Court of Appeal addressed the role of evidence in allocating ownership interests in a case decided by the Sixth District Court of Appeal known as Colmet-Daage v. Cremoux (2021) 2021 Cal.App.Unpub.LEXIS 2208.
There, a wife and husband took title to property as joint tenants and later when the couple separated, the wife recorded a Declaration of Severance of Joint Tenancy, making both parties tenants in common. The husband then sought a partition action to which the wife filed a cross-complaint and requested the court to find that she had a greater ownership interest in the Property. The trial court held in favor of the husband and ordered a partition of the Property. The trial court also declined her request to find that she had a greater ownership because among other things, there was no discussion between the parties about her intention to retain a greater interest, the loans and encumbrances on the property exceeded its fair market value, and the parties were in a loving relationship, blending their families. The wife appealed, claiming that she purchased the Property without any contribution from her husband, and that her contributions throughout the years far exceed her husband's contributions.
The Court of Appeal affirmed, finding that the trial court did not err in denying the wife's request that she be found to be an equitable owner of more than 50% interest in the Property. The Court of Appeal found that there was no evidence that the couple made unequal contributions to purchase the property jointly. Instead, it found that the evidence showed that the Property had no equity at the time, neither party contributed funds during that time, and that the husband was taking on a debt rather than an asset. Thus, the Appellate Court determined that the parties retained equal ownership because of the joint tenancy grant deed, the conversion to tenancy in common interests, and the absence of evidence that the couple intended anything other than 50% ownership. Thus, Colmet-Daage supports the rule that a party must provide substantial evidence to rebut the presumption of equal ownership interests as he or she bears the burden to rebut the presumptionHow the Underwood Law Firm Can Help
In order to start resolving these situations, you should contact the experienced Whittier Partition Lawyers at the Underwood Law Firm, P.C. as soon as you are ready to start the next chapter of your life.