Oftentimes someone owns a home jointly with their unmarried spouse or family member. It could be an investment property with an acquaintance, it could be a property that you purchased with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or it could be a cabin that was passed down to siblings. Sometimes, the owners of the property have differing ideas for what to do with it. What happens if one person wants to sell it and one person wants to keep it? What happens if you break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend and only one of you is living in the house? What if you don’t visit the family cabin as often as your siblings and their families?

As with most practical problems, it is better to contact a lawyer on the front end before a dispute arises. While there may be an upfront cost, it is much cheaper to have an agreement with your significant other, investment partner, or sibling before purchasing the property. The agreement can have terms that will describe in detail what happens if there is a deadlock or disagreement between the owners. This type of contract or agreement can ultimately save the owners thousands of dollars if there is a dispute or, as life would have it, unexpected events happen.

There is a mechanism in the law to provide co-owners of a property some finality if there is a disagreement on what to do with the property and there is no agreement or contract in place that provides a mechanism to resolve the dispute. In Minnesota, one would file a Partition Action if the parties cannot resolve their differences prior to court intervention. The word Partition means “to divide” which means the Court has the ability to physically divide the property among the owners, if possible. However, most properties have homes or other buildings on them making it difficult to physically divide the property in a fair manner, so the Court can order the sale of the property and the equity to be divided. If there is a dispute about who gets the equity, the Court will hear the evidence and make a determination, which can be based on complicated factors that necessitate legal counsel.

Whether you need to handle co-ownership of property in Minnesota on the front end, through a contract, or on the backend, through negotiation and/or a Partition Action in Court, please contact our office at 651-462-0206 and we can assist you.