The co-owner of the house does not want to sell. What we can do? – Boston Herald



Q: My son owns a house with my ex-husband. My son is a mortgage borrower and I made a down payment when they bought it. My son wants to sell the house, but my ex won’t agree if he doesn’t get some of the proceeds, even if he didn’t help with the house or make payments. What we can do?

– Kelly

BUT: People who own property together and cannot agree on what to do with it is one of the most common disputes I face in my practice.

Non-spouse co-owners share the rights and obligations associated with property ownership.

Conflicts often arise over the maintenance or disposition of the house. For example, one owner may want to sell and another may not, or the owner may feel that he is doing more than his share of the content.

No one should buy property with anyone other than their spouse without a written joint ownership agreement outlining everyone’s responsibilities and how to resolve common disputes.

Since this contract is being prepared by very few people, the owners often end up in court.

Your son may have to file a section claim. In a split, the court will consider the circumstances of the purchase and ownership of the property to decide how best to split the interests of the owner. This type of litigation is similar to divorce, but for property owners, not for spouses.

The judge will consider how the down payment was made, who paid the mortgage, taxes and expenses, and how the property was used for a fair division.

This process usually requires the property to be sold, all debts paid, and the remaining equity divided fairly. In some cases, one party can buy out the other if they choose to do so.

While partition suits effectively solve the problem, any lawsuit can be costly and time-consuming to get through.

As with most disputes, it is best to settle matters without bringing a claim.

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and is certified by the Florida Bar Association as an expert in real estate law. He handles real estate, litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Florida. He is chairman of the real estate section of the Broward County Bar Association and co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. “He often advises companies across the country on general real estate issues and trends in Florida. Email him questions online at or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.


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