Recently on our divorce forum a user asked, “If I have been living with my boyfriend for 10 years and we own a home together what happens if one of us moves out and wants to sell the home? Can I force him to sell the through a partition sale even if he does not want to?”
No one plans to separate. Ten years ago it may have seemed like you and your boyfriend were the perfect couple. You may have been planning on getting married. But what happens when you purchase property with someone else or someone dies and property must be split between multiple family members?
Property laws actually favor the person(s) who would like to sale the house, and generally, they can force a sale or division of the property through a partition sale or partition division.
Can I force a partition sale?
Assuming you are a property owner, you have the legal right to file an action for partition by sale or partition in kind (also referred to as partition by division). The type of partition required will vary based on the property owned.
For example, if you are attempting to sell a single family home dividing the home is generally not possible, so the home will have to be sold. In many cases the home will be sold to a third- party buyer, and the monies from the sale will be divided between each owner.
Proceeds may be divided equally, or if one owner has invested more heavily in the property they may receive more compensation after the sale. This determination can be made by the court. The court will also ensure that all expenses related to the property, including any outstanding liens, are paid prior to the distribution of the profits.
If the property is a parcel of land, however, the property could be separated by division, allowing each co-owner to keep a piece of the land or sell it on their own.
Do I need legal help to ask for a property partition?
If you boyfriend agrees to the sale of the property and you anticipate the process will not be contentious, you may be able to file the action for the partition to sale without legal help. Unfortunately, however, if he is not willing to fight and the court has to get involved and issue a court order to force the sale, you may need to talk to a lawyer who understands real estate litigation.
Can my boyfriend buy the house from me and avoid a partition sale?
Another option, which may require less effort, is simply to offer to sale your portion of the house to your boyfriend. If he is interested in this option you will need to have an appraisal done to find out the value of your home. Then you can determine the sale price and make him an offer. He may be more willing to negotiate and consider purchasing your portion of the house if he understands that you have the legal right to force a sale through a partition sale.
It should also go without saying that you generally should not vacate the property or allow him to do anything that could lower the value of your home. If you have already left the premises and something detrimental is occurring, you may to take emergency action to protect your investment.
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