Updated on May 30, 2023
In this next Schorr Law Chronicles blog, we will be discussing a real estate partition action case example that Schorr Law represented a client in. Please note that while the experience written henceforth is real, in order to protect people’s privacies, the names have been changed. That said, everything here is public record and took place in a public proceeding.
Schorr Law represented a client (“Liz”) in the city of Pomona in Los Angeles County who had purchased a property with her long time boyfriend (“Isaac”) who was the father of their teenage boy. Liz had lived at the property and raised their son at the property after Isaac moved out.
Years passed, and as their child grew and Liz and Isaac grew further apart, Isaac eventually decided that he wanted to sell the property. Liz offered to refinance the property and use the refinance proceeds to buy Isaac out, but Isaac refused.
Moreover, the parties could not agree on what each of them had put into the property over the years as money paid towards the common benefit of the property. As a reminder, in partition actions, money paid to the common benefit gets reimbursed to the party who paid it as part of the partition sale.
After unsuccessfully trying to work out a deal, Isaac sued Liz for partition and an accounting. He wanted to force a sale of the property. Schorr Law, in turn, caused Liz to file a cross-complaint for partition and an accounting.
Why file the cross-complaint?
We filed the cross-complaint to make sure that Isaac did not have an opportunity – if the case was not going well – to dismiss the case and avoid the partition sale. The property needed to be sold so we also sued to partition to make sure all the work in the lawsuit resulted in a sale.
Despite, Liz and Schorr Law’s best efforts Isaac refused to resolve the case. Note, it is very rare for partition cases to go to trial, but Isaac was hell bent on taking this to the end. Accordingly, we took the matter to trial in the Pomona Courthouse.
At trial, Isaac showed up with documents that we had previously asked for in the lead up to trial that he claimed showed that he had been contributing to the property’s expenses for many years. We argued to the judge that it was too late for Isaac to turn over the documents because he had refused to provide the documents during the discovery process.
The judge agreed and excluded all of Isaac’s documents from evidence. Isaac then tried to testify regarding expenses he put into the property, but we were able to show that they were really child care expenses or not verifiable.
In the end, the judge ordered the property be sold via a partition sale and allowed Liz to recover all of her out of pocket expenses associated with the property (mortgage, insurance, property taxes and improvements). Isaac was not afforded any reimbursements.
This is a good example of a partition case we have handled. In our experience, most partition cases really focus on the accounting because the ability to prevent a partition sale when you have more than one person on title and no waiver of the right to partition is very tough.
At Schorr Law, we have a developed a system for presenting the accounting materials in a clear matter that the court can easily understand. Our Los Angeles partition attorneys understand the nuisances of partition action law and know which arguments to emphasize and which to avoid.