Can I Force the Sale of a Jointly Owned Property in Florida?

If you’re wondering “Can I force the sale of my jointly owned property in Florida?”, the short answer is, yes, you can. Florida law allows any co-owner of a property, regardless of their percentage ownership interest, to initiate a partition action to force the sale of the property.

If you’re in a dispute over your jointly owned property, we can help you. In this blog post, you’ll learn about your legal rights to force the sale of the property through partition action, buyouts, and other legal remedies.

joint owners of property tired of owning together

Understanding the Legalities of Forced Sale

Navigating the complexities of forced property sales can be daunting, especially for those unfamiliar with the legal intricacies of real estate transactions.

In Florida, co-ownership arrangements often give rise to disputes among parties regarding their respective rights and interests in a jointly owned property.

According to Florida law, co-owners of a property, regardless of their ownership percentage, have the right to initiate a partition action, enabling them to compel a sale of the property. This legal recourse is available even if other owners object and prefer not to sell.

It’s essential to note that a partition action is not just a tool for co-owners who want to liquidate their interest; it also protects owners who wish to maintain their interest. 

If one co-owner wants to sell and the other co-owners don’t, a buyout or division of the property may be a viable alternative to selling the property. Each co-owner’s circumstances, the property’s nature, and market conditions can influence the court’s decision.

For instance, two siblings may inherit equal shares in a family home; one sibling might desire liquidity while the other cherishes memories and wishes to keep the house.

Dividing Joint Property Ownership – Partition

The Definitive Guide to Partition Actions | RMO Lawyers

Dividing joint property ownership can be a complicated process, particularly when several parties are involved or in cases where there’s an unresolved conflict. 

Disputes often arise over financial contributions and responsibilities, especially when one party has contributed more than the others. In such situations, the court may consider each party’s contributions and responsibilities when deciding on a fair division. 

For instance, if one party has been responsible for the property’s maintenance while the others haven’t, the court may adjust the shares to account for these contributions.

In Florida, one may wonder, “Can I force my siblings to sell a property?” It’s a valid question, and the answer is deeply rooted in Florida law and the specific circumstances surrounding the property in question.

In essence, a co-owner has the legal right to file a partition lawsuit if they wish to force a sale. Here are some key steps involved in such cases:

  1. Filing a Lawsuit: The process begins with filing a lawsuit in the appropriate Florida court, usually where the property is located.
  2. Legal Examination: The court then determines whether the petitioner has the right to partition the property. This generally involves looking at property deeds, ownership history, and existing co-owners agreements.
  3. Property Valuation: If the court decides to proceed with the partition, they will order a property valuation to determine its fair market value.
  4. Sale or Division: Depending on the situation, the court may order a private sale, public auction, or physical property division.

While the process may seem straightforward, it often involves several layers of legalities that might pose a challenge. To avoid potential conflicts and ensure the smooth settlement of an estate, consider the following tips:

  • Maintain Open Communication: Keep the lines of communication open with all parties involved. Disputes often stem from misunderstandings that could have been avoided with clear and early communication.
  • Seek Legal Counsel: Florida law can be complex, and having an attorney specializing in real estate or estate planning is beneficial.
  • Be Prepared for Costs: From court fees to potential legal representation, be prepared for the expenses of a partition lawsuit.
  • Keep Records: Document any unpaid expenses incurred related to the property. This can help determine the fair distribution of proceeds from the sale.

Joint Property Ownership When One Party Wants To Sell

Joint property ownership often arises when family members, friends, or business associates decide to invest in a real estate venture together.

In such arrangements, it’s common for one party to assume the role of managing the property, while others may contribute more financially. This imbalance often leads to disputes, especially when the property’s value increases or one party wants to exit the investment. 

In such situations, the court may need to assess the contributions and responsibilities of each party to determine a fair division.

Finding a fair solution is critical to avoid legal disputes and maintain amicable relationships between all parties involved. One option co-owners might consider is dividing joint property ownership through the partition. This process can include determining adjusted shares based on factors like original investments and responsibilities each party assumes. 

For example, adjusting shares might mean giving one co-owner a larger percentage of equity due to more substantial financial contributions or ongoing maintenance efforts during ownership.

Dealing With Disputes in Joint Property Ownership

co owners of florida property disagreeing on selling the property

Disputes in joint property ownership can arise for various reasons, including disagreements over the use or management of the property, financial obligations such as mortgage payments and maintenance expenses, or differing opinions on whether to sell or keep the asset.

These disputes can be challenging to resolve due to the emotional attachment, financial investment, and differing views on the property’s future. 

Sometimes, the parties may consider alternative dispute resolution methods such as negotiation, mediation, or arbitration. These methods can save time and money and potentially preserve relationships between the parties.

One common approach is attempting dispute resolution through mediation—where a neutral third party helps facilitate discussions between disputing owners to reach an agreeable outcome.

For example, suppose two siblings inherit a jointly owned beach house, but one wants to sell it while the other prefers renting it out. In that case, they might benefit from working with a mediator who can guide them toward an arrangement that satisfies both parties’ financial needs and goals.

If this route proves unsuccessful, legal channels like filing for partition action may be necessary to resolve disputes in joint property ownership situations.

We’ve come across many situations like this, and sometimes, the easiest solution for the party that’s looking to sell, is to sell their partial interest in the property to an investment company like us and let us handle the partition lawsuit headache. Feel free to reach out to us and see if this would be a good solution for you as well!

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Definition of Forced Sale of Property

A forced sale of property is the legal process of selling a jointly owned property against the wishes of one or more co-owners, initiated through legal proceedings such as a partition action. This type of sale often arises when co-owners of a property cannot agree on its disposition, and one party decides to take legal action to sell the asset.

It’s essential to remember that alternatives to a forced sale may offer better outcomes for everyone involved. A forced sale could result in a lower market price if the property is sold quickly, and the distribution of sale proceeds may also spark disputes among the co-owners.

Consider this example scenario: Two siblings inherit a family home but can’t decide whether to keep or sell it. One sibling may want to maintain ownership, while the other prefers selling it off for financial gain. Without mutual consent, they can be embroiled in a forced sale scenario where one sibling takes legal action by filing a partition lawsuit.

Implications of a Forced Sale on Property Owners

When a jointly owned property is sold through a forced sale, there are significant implications for all involved parties. 

One of the significant factors to consider is the tax implications of a forced sale. Capital gains tax could apply depending on the property’s value, affecting the net proceeds from the sale. In some cases, one co-owner can claim a larger share of the proceeds if they have invested more in the property, whether in terms of financial contribution, time, or effort.

For example, the sale proceeds may not be divided equally among co-owners, as debts and expenses must first be paid off.

Additionally, emotional attachments to a property can make it difficult for some co-owners to sell, leading to potential conflicts and disputes. Moreover, the legal process involved in forcing the sale of jointly owned property can be costly and time-consuming.

It’s vital for those looking into forced sales of jointly owned properties in Florida to understand that such actions can have long-lasting effects on relationships and finances.

Definition of Partition Action

A partition action, also known as a partition lawsuit, is a legal action filed with the court to force the sale or division of a jointly owned property. This action allows co-owners to physically divide the property into separate portions or sell the property and distribute the proceeds among the co-owners based on their ownership interests.

This type of lawsuit can occur when two or more owners can’t agree on what to do with their shared real estate, whether due to disputes over individual use, joint ownership percentages, or other issues.

The filing of a partition lawsuit signals the beginning of a legal process that can be stressful and time-consuming. The process requires legal expertise and can have significant financial implications, including legal fees, court costs, and, potentially, the loss of the property itself. Therefore, co-owners should explore all possible alternatives before opting for a partition.

Once filed at the county courthouse where the property is located, this process can take several months before it reaches its conclusion. It results in selling or dividing the disputed property among all parties involved.

There are three types of partition actions: partition in kind, partition by sale, and partition by allotment:

  • Partition in kind involves physically dividing the property among the co-owners.
  • Partition by sale involves selling the property and dividing the proceeds among the co-owners. 
  • Partition by allotment is where one or more co-owners buy out the other co-owner(s).

Here are the steps involved in the process:

  1. Filing a Petition: The first step in starting a partition action is filing a formal lawsuit in the county where the property is located.
  2. Service of Process: Once the lawsuit has been filed, all parties must be notified of the suit.
  3. Response: The other owners have 20 days to respond after being notified.
  4. Mediation: Before proceeding to trial, mediation can resolve disputes among owners.
  5. Discovery: If mediation doesn’t work, pre-trial discovery will occur before the trial.
  6. Trial: The trial will involve presenting evidence and arguments before a judge determines whether to order a sale or division of the property.
  7. Order for Sale or Division: If it’s determined that there should be a sale or division of the property, the judge will issue an order directing how this should happen.
  8. Property Sale: Finally, if ordered for sale, steps can be taken toward selling the property, such as hiring an appraiser or real estate agent for marketing purposes.
legal fees for a partition lawsuit action in florida

Legal Fees of Partition

The cost of a partition action in Florida can vary depending on the complexity of the legal process, the attorney’s experience and hourly rates, and the amount of time and effort required to resolve the matter.

Additionally, there are other costs to consider when pursuing a partition action. If the property needs to be sold, there might be real estate agent commissions, closing costs, and other associated expenses. Also, if the property is rented out, eviction costs might be incurred if tenants need to vacate before the sale.

Legal fees and costs associated with a partition action can include attorney fees, court costs, appraisal and survey expenses, title insurance, and more. These expenses are typically paid out of the sale proceeds if the attorney contributed to the partition.

Property owners in Florida need to understand that while there are costs involved in initiating a partition action, it can ultimately be worth it to force a sale when co-owners refuse to sell or agree on division.

The court may order the fees and costs of a partition action to be paid out of the sale proceeds in the case of partition by sale.

Although the cost of a partition action may vary depending on factors such as the property’s value, it can be sold via private sale or at public auction under court supervision if necessary. It’s also possible for co-owners to reach an agreement outside of court to minimize legal costs and expenses.

From our experience of buying partial interest in some of our deals, and then going through partition with the other owners, partition lawsuits usually cost anywhere from $5K-$10K.

Timeframe for Partition

One of the most common questions people ask when considering a forced sale or partition action is how long the process will take.

This timeframe is only an estimate and varies significantly based on various factors, including the number of co-owners, whether any co-owner disputes the action, the property’s nature and value, and court scheduling and availability. Co-owners should consider the potential duration when deciding whether to pursue a partition action.

While there’s no definitive answer, the Florida Bar Association estimates that it can take 6-12 months on average to complete a partition action from start to finish. However, delays are typical and could extend this timeframe longer.

In some cases, winning a partition action can be achieved relatively quickly if all parties agree on terms for selling their shared property. In other instances, proceedings could be significantly prolonged if disagreements arise over how much each owner should receive from the sale proceeds or whether to sell at a public auction vs. a private sale.

If you’re considering a partition lawsuit to force the sale of jointly owned property in Florida, it’s essential to understand the timeline considerations involved. While every case is unique, it typically takes several months to complete the process from start to finish.

Let’s take a look at the different processes involved in a partition lawsuit and how various factors can affect the timeframe for the partition:

  1. Consultation and Preparation: Initially, you’ll meet with a real estate attorney to discuss your case and evaluate the feasibility of a partition action. The time required for this stage can vary depending on the case’s complexity and information availability.
  2. Filing the Lawsuit: Once you decide to proceed with a partition action, your attorney will prepare and file the necessary legal documents to initiate the lawsuit. The time taken to complete this stage largely depends on the attorney’s workload and document preparation efficiency.
  3. Serving Notice and Responses:  After filing the lawsuit, the court requires that all interested parties are properly served with a copy of the complaint. The duration for this stage varies based on the availability and cooperation of the parties involved.
  4. Discovery and Pre-trial Proceedings: This stage involves gathering evidence, conducting depositions, and exchanging relevant information between the parties. It can take several months, especially in complex cases. You should also take pre-trial conferences and hearings into consideration.
  5. Negotiation or Mediation: In some cases, the parties may attempt to settle through negotiation or mediation. This timeframe can vary depending on the willingness of the parties to negotiate and the complexity of the issues involved. The partition process may conclude at this stage if a settlement is reached.
  6. Trial or Final Resolution: If the parties cannot settle, the case may proceed to trial. The court’s schedule determines the trial date, which can take several months to schedule. The length of the trial itself will depend on the complexity of the case and the number of issues to be resolved.

How Does a Partition Action Work?

To win a partition action, you must have a solid understanding of the legal process and your rights as a co-owner. As we’ve already discussed, you’ll first need to file a formal lawsuit in the county where the property is located.

Next, you must provide evidence justifying why you want the property sold through the partition. In most cases, common reasons include irreconcilable disputes between co-owners or when one party wants out, but others do not agree on how to dispose of it.

If the court orders a sale through the partition, all co-owners will receive their share from its proceeds according to their percentage of ownership interest.

Can You Stop Partition in Progress?

Yes, it’s possible to stop a partition action already in progress, but it typically depends on the specific circumstances and the stage of the proceedings.

If you are a co-owner and wish to stop the partition in progress, you must file an objection with the court detailing your reasons for opposition and present evidence to support your claims.

A few possible scenarios for stopping a partition in progress include:

  • Mutual Agreement: If all parties involved in the partition action agree to halt the proceedings and come to a different resolution, they can enter a mutual agreement to stop the partition. This could involve negotiating a buyout, a change in ownership structure, or any other mutually acceptable arrangement.
  • Settlement Agreement: If the parties are in the midst of litigation or have reached a certain stage in the partition action, they may choose to settle the dispute by reaching a settlement agreement. This agreement would outline the terms and conditions for resolving the partition and must be approved by the court.
  • Dismissal or Withdrawal: The party initiating the partition action may voluntarily dismiss or withdraw the lawsuit. This typically requires filing a motion with the court explaining the reasons for the dismissal or withdrawal. However, the court may consider factors such as the other parties’ interests and any expenses or damages incurred during the partition action.
  • Court Intervention: In some cases, if there are legal grounds or significant changes in circumstances, a party can petition the court to stop or halt the partition action. This may require showing a compelling reason, such as a defect in the legal proceedings, new evidence, or a change in circumstances that warrants stopping the partition.

How To Stop Partition Action?

How to Stop a Partition Action | RMO Lawyers

One way to stop a partition action is for all co-owners to agree on the sale or division of the property without involving court proceedings.

Before you take this course of action, evaluate the situation. Consult with an attorney who can assess the specific circumstances, review the legal documents and proceedings, and advise you on options to stop the partition action.

If you think it’s the right course of action, try reaching a mutually acceptable resolution through negotiation with your co-owners. Engage in open and constructive discussions with the other them to see if a settlement or alternative arrangement can be reached that satisfies all parties involved. 

You can consider engaging in mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods if mediation doesn’t work.

If all parties involved in the partition action agree to halt the proceedings, you can draft a consent agreement outlining the terms and conditions for stopping the partition. 

If you are the party who initiated the partition action, you can file a motion with the court to dismiss or withdraw the lawsuit. This typically involves providing a compelling reason for stopping the partition, such as a change in circumstances or a mutual agreement with the other co-owners. The court will review the motion and may hold a hearing to consider your request.

Preventive Measures To Avoid Partition Action

If you’re a co-owner of a property in Florida, it’s best to take preventive measures from the get-go to avoid a partition action and the hassle that comes with it. Here are some tips:

  1. Draft a Co-Ownership Agreement: A well-drafted co-ownership agreement will clearly define the rights and responsibilities of each owner and outline the procedures for making important decisions about the property.
  2. Communicate Effectively: Communication is vital in any relationship, including the co-ownership of property. Regular communication can help prevent misunderstandings that could lead to disputes and, ultimately, a forced sale.
  3. Be Willing to Compromise: When disputes arise, be willing to compromise and find solutions that work for all parties involved.
  4. Explore Buyout Options: In some cases, it may be possible for one owner to buy out the other’s interest in the property. This can be done through negotiation or mediation.
  5. Keep Up with Maintenance: Keeping up with maintenance can help preserve the property’s value and prevent disagreements over who should pay for repairs or improvements.
  6. Seek Legal Advice: Consulting with an experienced real estate attorney can help you understand your rights and options as a co-owner of property in Florida.

How To Successfully Win Partition Action

Winning a partition action involves achieving a favorable outcome that aligns with your goals and interests. While the specific strategies may vary depending on the circumstances of your case, here are some general steps to increase your chances of success in a partition action:

  • Seek Experienced Legal Representation: Engage an experienced real estate attorney specializing in partition actions.
  • Understand Your Rights and the Law: Familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations governing partition actions in your jurisdiction. Understand your rights as a co-owner and the factors the court considers when deciding on a partition action. 
  • Gather Strong Evidence: Collect and present compelling evidence that supports your claims and desired outcome in the partition action. This may include property appraisals, financial records, title deeds, contracts, or other relevant documentation. 
  • Collaborate with Experts: Engage professionals such as appraisers, surveyors, or real estate experts who can provide objective assessments and expert opinions on the property involved in the partition action.
  • Present a Clear and Persuasive Argument: Work with your attorney to develop a clear and persuasive argument that supports your position in the partition action.
  • Be Prepared for Appeals: The losing party may sometimes appeal the court’s decision. Discuss the possibility of an appeal with your attorney and be prepared to continue the legal process if necessary.

Should You Hire an Attorney?

should i hire an attorney to force the sale of a jointly owned property?

To ensure that your rights are protected during the forced sale or partition of a jointly owned property in Florida, it is highly recommended to consider consulting a real estate attorney who has experience handling co-ownership disputes.

While you can technically file a partition action on your own, enlisting the services of an experienced real estate attorney can help ensure that your interests and rights as a co-owner are protected throughout the process.

An attorney can assist with reviewing and negotiating any proposed sale agreements, ensuring that all relevant legal documentation is filed correctly and on time, and advocating for your position during any disputes.

Steps To Force the Sale of an Inherited Property in Florida

As an heir or beneficiary of a property in Florida, you have legal rights to inherit and receive the benefits of a contract or instrument. However, disputes can arise among heirs, especially regarding jointly owned properties.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to force the sale of jointly owned property in Florida, here are some steps to follow:

  1. First, you must understand the legal grounds. In Florida, you can initiate a partition action to force the sale of jointly owned property, including inherited property.
  2. While you can file a partition action by yourself, seeking guidance from a qualified real estate attorney specializing in partition actions and inheritance matters is best. 
  3. Ensure that you clearly understand the ownership structure of the inherited property and any existing co-ownership agreement, if applicable.
  4. Openly communicate with the other co-owners of the inherited property. Discuss your desire to force the sale and attempt to reach a mutual agreement. Consult with a mediator to facilitate productive discussions and explore potential resolutions if necessary.
  5. If you cannot reach a mutually agreeable resolution, you can initiate a partition action by filing a lawsuit in the appropriate Florida court. 
  6. Once the lawsuit is filed, ensure that all co-owners and any other parties with an interest in the property are properly served with notice of the partition action.
  7. The co-owners may file counterclaims or defenses in response to the partition action. Work with your attorney to review and respond to these claims, presenting solid arguments and supporting evidence to assert your right to force the sale of the property.
  8. The court may require or encourage mediation to facilitate a settlement between the co-owners. Participate in good faith and explore potential resolutions that involve the sale of the property. 
  9. The case may proceed to trial if a settlement cannot be reached. Present your arguments, evidence, and witnesses before the court. The court will evaluate the evidence and decide on the partition and sale of the inherited property. 
  10. If the court orders the sale of the inherited property, it will be sold, typically at a public auction or through a real estate agent. The proceeds from the sale will be distributed among the co-owners based on their ownership interests after deducting any costs associated with the sale and the partition action.

What About the Mortgage?

mortgage in a partition lawsuit

In a forced sale, where a property is sold through a partition action or other legal process, the lender will become involved as a party to the lawsuit and may have a say in how any proceeds from the sale are distributed.

However, treating an outstanding mortgage, the division of assets, and other relevant points can vary based on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances.

Here are some general considerations:

  1. Mortgage Payoff: Upon the sale of a property, the funds obtained from the transaction are typically utilized to settle any outstanding mortgage payments tied to the property. The mortgage lender will have a priority claim on the proceeds and be paid the amount owed before distributing the remaining funds.
  2. Appraisal: In many cases, an appraisal is conducted to determine the property’s fair market value. It helps establish the property’s value to divide the assets and determine the distribution of sale proceeds among the co-owners. A licensed appraiser usually performs the appraisal.
  3. Distribution of Sale Proceeds: After the mortgage and other expenses related to the sale (such as real estate agent fees and closing costs) are paid, the remaining funds are divided among the co-owners based on their ownership interests. This division is typically proportional to each co-owner’s ownership share.
  4. Co-Owner Agreements: In some cases, the co-owners may have entered into a specific agreement or arrangement regarding the division of assets and sale proceeds. For example, they may have agreed to split the proceeds equally or in a different proportion than their ownership interests.
  5. Deficiency or Surplus: A deficiency may occur if the sale proceeds are insufficient to cover the outstanding mortgage and other expenses. In such cases, the co-owners may cover the shortfall according to their ownership interests. Conversely, if the sale proceeds exceed the outstanding mortgage and costs, a surplus may occur, typically distributed among the co-owners based on their ownership shares.
  6. Court Approval: In some jurisdictions, the sale and distribution of assets in a forced sale may require court approval. The court will review the details of the partition action, the sale process, and the proposed division of assets to ensure fairness and compliance with applicable laws.

It’s important to note that expenses related to the sale, such as legal fees and real estate commissions, will be deducted from the gross sales price before any division among co-owners occurs.


Do you have questions about forcing the sale of a jointly owned property in Florida? Check out our FAQs section for answers to common inquiries.

Can siblings force the sale of an inherited property in Florida?

Yes, in some circumstances, siblings can force the sale of an inherited property through a partition action. This is because Florida law recognizes that when multiple parties own a property, it may only sometimes be possible for them to agree on what should be done with it.

In such cases, any co-owner can initiate legal action and file for a partition lawsuit to force the sale of the jointly owned property. The court will then order that the property be sold and each owner’s share of proceeds be distributed accordingly.

Do all heirs have to agree to sell property in Florida?

No, all heirs don’t have to agree to sell property in Florida. According to Florida law, a single person can initiate the process of forcing the sale of joint property through a partition action, even if other owners disagree.

This means that one co-owner can bring legal proceedings against another or others for an equitable division of the jointly owned property. However, it’s important to note that this process can be complex and involve legal fees and court costs.

Can one heir force the sale of property in Florida?

Yes, in Florida, one heir can force the sale of jointly owned property through a partition action. This legal process allows co-owners to seek a court-ordered property sale when they cannot agree.

Even if other co-owners oppose the sale, it is still possible for one heir to initiate this action and force all parties to sell the property. The Heirs Property Act of Florida also offers protection for heirs who inherited real estate and do not want to sell their portion but are under pressure from others who wish to sell.

Final Thoughts and a Case Study

Florida law allows individuals to force the sale of a jointly owned property through a partition action. Regardless of their percentage ownership interest, any co-owner has the right to initiate this legal process to seek the sale and division of the property’s proceeds.

Forced sale or partition actions can be complex legal proceedings that require careful consideration and expert guidance. Understanding your rights, options, and the legal remedies available to force the sale of the property is essential.

Seeking advice from an experienced real estate attorney can help you make informed decisions and achieve a successful outcome.

We’ve come across many situations like this, and sometimes, the easiest solution for the party that’s looking to sell, is to sell their partial interest in the property to an investment company like us and let us handle the partition lawsuit headache. Below is a case study of a Partition deal we recently closed.

Case Study – 112 Byron Pl SE Winter Haven, FL

partition deal in winter haven

Catherine reached out to us back in January 2022 after she heard our ad on the radio. She owned this house along with her ex-boyfriend, Jason. It was a sad case of domestic violence and abuse, and Catherine just wanted to sell the house and move on with her life. Unfortunately, Jason wasn’t cooperating with her and did not want to sell. So we agreed with Catherine that we’ll buy her 50% interest in the property, and file a partition action against Jason to force the sale of the property. Catherine liked the idea, so she sold us her 50%.

This partition case took a while, and finally, after about a year, we got the order from the judge forcing Jason to cooperate with the sale of the property. So we listed the house for sale and sold it for the best price we could – benefiting both Jason and us.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, feel free to reach out to us and see if this would be a good solution for you as well!

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