Dividing Property Outside of Divorce

A partition action is a legal proceeding to divide property amongst unmarried individuals that cannot agree what to do with the property. This may arise in a situation where two parties who were never married purchased a home together. It may also arise if real property is not properly dealt with at the time of the divorce action and the now divorced parties are still co-owners. Pennsylvania partition actions are governed by Rules 1551 – 1574 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. There are two options in a partition action. One option involves physically splitting the property, if possible. The alternative option, and more likely occurrence, involves the home being sold with the proceeds divided. As far as procedure, a complaint for partition should be brought in the county where the property is located and must include all co-tenants as parties.

The complaint must also include a description of the property along with each co-tenant’s interest in the property. Following the filing of the complaint and a court order on the partition, a court officer called a “master” is usually appointed to oversee the action. This usually includes an appraisal of the property to obtain an accurate value and setting up the sale of the property, be it private or public. The parties to the partition action are responsible for splitting all fees incurred during the partition proceeding as well as compensating the master. The parties can resolve at any time settle the matter amicably amongst themselves. Married couples should be sure to deal with real property issues at the time of divorce to avoid the potential for this additional proceeding down the road.

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