You and your siblings inherited the family farm. No one wants to sell it, but how do you divide it up so that each of you winds up owning your fair share of the land? Or what if one sibling wants to sell the farm, but the others do not?
In either case, the land must be partitioned. Partitions can be either voluntary or judicial.
When siblings agree
If you and your siblings agree on how to split up or sell the property, you can voluntarily execute an agreement in writing stating who will keep which part of the property. If you agree to sell the property, you can agree in writing on how you will divide the proceeds from the sale. This is referred to as a voluntary partition.
When siblings cannot agree
If you and your siblings cannot agree on how to split up the property or whether to sell it, you must undergo a judicial partition. Judicial partitions can be in kind or by sale.
A judge can order a partition in kind by assigning you and each of your siblings a specific portion of the property. You each then record your specific parcel of property as your own.
A partition in kind is not always ideal. Sometimes a piece of land physically cannot be divided into exactly equal portions, which could lead to an unfair result. Moreover, you and your siblings would continue to be neighbors, which could lead to personal conflict if there continues to be ill-will between you.
For these reasons, sometimes it is better for a judge to order a partition by sale. The entire tract of land will be sold either in the open market or, more likely, through a sheriff’s auction. The money made from the sale is split between you and your siblings.
A partition by sale has the advantage of ensuring each sibling walks away with an equal award. In addition, partitions by sale ensure that a person is not forced to own property they do not want to own.
Partition actions can be necessary when siblings cannot agree on how to divide a shared tract of land or when one sibling wants to sell but the others do not. Partitions can be challenging, so if you are seeking a partition or opposing one, you will not want to try to do so on your own.