The ownership of real property by unmarried people can ultimately become problematic.  Examples of non-married ownership can occur when: couples that are dating decide to purchase real estate; when siblings inherit property; or when an investment is made in a property.  While a situation might be ideal when owners take title – what happens when things break bad?  In these situations, a partition suit is an effective remedy to solve a problematic situation.

If a co-ownership situation becomes untenable, then any owner may file the Partition suit.  The suit is filed in the county in which the property is located and must name every owner as a defendant.  Once service is complete and all parties are at issue, the Court will appoint a Commissioner.  The role of the Commissioner is to assess the situation and report back to the Court.  The main determination to be made at this stage is whether the property can effectively be split between the parties without losing ownership interests.  Usually, the only time that this can be done is if the property to be divided is farmland.  For most other property (usually single family homes), this type of division is not possible.

If the Commissioner reports back to the Court that a division of the property will not work, then the Court will appoint an Appraiser. This person will value the property and report that value to the Court.  A Sheriff’s Sale will then occur and the starting bid for sale will be 2/3 of the appraised value.  So long as the property sells for at least that amount, the sale will be approved by the Court, and title will pass to the winning bidder.

After the sale, the proceeds are divided between the former owners after dividing the costs equally.  These costs include the attorney’s fees, appraiser’s fees, commissioner’s fees and any other costs associated with the sale.  Because the Court’s role is to make sure that each party shares in the ownership equally, additional costs can include payment of rent if one of the owners resided in in the property or reimbursement of expenses if one of the owners paid for a disproportionate share of the maintenance of the property.

While a partition suit may not be the most profitable way to dispose of property owned with another person, it may be the only option in some instances.

Brian Cichon has been practicing law in Will County for over 20 years.  He handles a variety of legal issues, be they simple, complex or something in between.  He is a trial lawyer, focusing on general civil litigation.  Brian’s primary goal in any legal dispute is to make sure that the solution is the best possible one for his client.  He always seeks a practical, cost-effective outcome, and where litigation is necessary, he is ready to fight for his client’s rights. 

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