What to do if one joint owner wants to sell a property and the other owers do not?

My wife, parents and I own property, where my wife and I have lived for the past 6 years. Their names, and ours are recorded on the deed title; we paid for it all together. Due to financial difficulties my father wants to declare bankruptcy and, because he owns half of this property and a small modest home where he and my mother live, he announced that we better be prepared because he’s going to list the property for sale. I am 100% disabled and on disability. We have no place to go and couldn’t survive if we agreed to allow him to sell the property. What can we do?

Asked on September 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I'm afraid that there may not be much that you can do. The other owners can file an action for "partition". This is a legal remedy available to joint owners of property when they cannot agree as to ownership matters.  Partition allows for the division of property among co-owners; any co-owner can file for such an action. 

If the property can be physically divided the court will instruct that it be done.  However, if division would be impracticable (e.g. in the instance of a single family house) a court would order a sale in lieu of partition with a corresponding equitable division of the proceeds among the co-owners. 

Note: Before doing so the court would permit an owner(s) to purchase the interest of the remaining owner(s) at fair market value.

At this point you should consult with a real estate attorney in your area.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.