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Compelling the Sale of Jointly Owned Houses, the Partition Suit

As times change, often people buying houses are not the traditional husband and wife couple. Mortgage companies are now usually willing to grant mortgage to boyfriend-girlfriend relationships or gay couples. However, if there is a breakup of relationships, a divorce complaint cannot be filed to compel the sale or division of assets. Instead, a partition suit can be filed in the Superior Court-Chancery Division - General Equity.

The partition suit originated from the English common law. Centuries ago, most property simply were farms. If co-owners could not voluntarily agree on a buy-out, or sole ownership, the Chancellor (an English Judge) could simply order the property/farms divided, or partitioned down the middle. In modern days, houses, condos and most land cannot be divided down the middle. Therefore, in a partition suit, the Superior Court Judge is usually asked to order the house sold and net proceeds divided.

A partition suit is usually started by having your attorney file a verified complaint for partition, signed by both you and the attorney. In addition, an Order to Show Cause is filed. This is a proposed order to be signed by the judge, compelling the defendant / the property owner to appear with their attorney and answer why the court should not award the relief requested with the original complaint. The defendant is also provided with time to file an answer plus counter-claim.

When there are issues other than an equal division of real property, the property owner, through their attorney, may conduct discovery. The three main methods of discovery under the New Jersey court rules are:

1) Interrogatories

2) Request for documents and

3) Deposition-which is live questioning under oath in front of a court reporter.

In partition suits, financial records may have to be produced to the court indicating who paid for household improvements, mortgage payments, taxes, utilities, etc. It is important to keep accurate records. If you dont have records, you will have to recreate records. Partition suits are often similar to divorce cases in which the parties have deep emotional feelings. However, often the bottom line is money. How much will be left after mortgage, taxes and any lien are satisfied is really the main issue.

Partition actions in New Jersey are governed by NJSA 2A:56-1:

2A:56-1. "Cotenant" ; executor or administrator with will annexed; definition and construction

As used in this chapter:

"Court" means the superior court.

"Cotenant" means and includes a tenant in common, joint tenant or coparcener, but not a tenant by the entirety.

An executor or administrator with the will annexed, having, by the terms of the testators will, power to sell any real estate or any undivided interest in any real estate of which his testator died seized, shall have the same power to bring an action to effect a partition of such real estate as such testator might have brought if living, and cotenant as used in this chapter shall include such an executor or administrator so far as may be requisite for such purposes.

2A:56-2. Partition through sale

The superior court may, in an action for the partition of real estate, direct the sale thereof if it appears that a partition thereof cannot be made without great prejudice to the owners, or persons interested therein.

2A:56-3. Division of part of real estate and sale of residue

In any action for partition in the superior court, part of the real estate included in the application may be divided and the remainder sold when it appears by the report of the commissioner or commissioners, which shall designate the lands to be divided and those to be sold, and by other satisfactory evidence that the whole of the real estate cannot be divided among the owners and proprietors without great prejudice to their interest.

Court Rule 4:63-1. permits courts to order the Sale of a property.

Rule 4:63-1- Partition; Dower; Curtesy

If in an action for partition or for the admeasurement of dower or curtesy, the court shall be satisfied that a division of the real estate can be made without great prejudice to the owners thereof, it may appoint one or more persons as commissioners to ascertain and report in writing the metes and bounds of each share; if not so satisfied, it may direct a sale or, in its discretion, if the action is one for dower or curtesy, an assignment from the rents and profits.

Zudiak v Szuryk 93 NJ Eq. 559, 561 (Chan 1922) established the power of the Court to order the sale of land if actual partition cannot be made.

Many counties in New Jersey have set up mediation panels to attempt to help parties resolve issues and avoid trials. The mediators are licensed attorneys volunteering their time to help the superior court. Most cases settle without an expensive lengthy trial. Hopefully, parties can put their emotional feelings aside, cut their court costs and settle without a trial.

   
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Since 1985, KENNETH VERCAMMEN has worked as a personal injury attorney, working for injury victims and their families. By taking a hard-hitting, aggressive approach toward the insurance companies, KENNETH VERCAMMEN and our co-counsel have consistently obtained outstanding results for many injured clients over the years I am proud to have worked on cases in various capacities, small and large. While obviously prior results cannot guarantee the outcome of future cases, I can guarantee that you case will receive the same degree of dedication and hard work that went into each of these prior cases.

In direct contrast to the hard-hitting approach we take toward the insurance companies is the soft approach we take toward our clients. I am proud of my compassionate staff as I am of the outstanding financial results they have achieved. For many years, I have watched them treat our clients with patience, dignity and respect. I would have it no other way.

Many years ago, I attended a seminar sponsored by the American Bar Association on Law Practice Management. This was to help insure that each of our clients is always treated like a person -- not a file! We recognize that you are innocent victims and that you have placed your trust in us. Please understand that we understand what you are going through. Feel comforted that we are here to help you.

If you retain KENNETH VERCAMMEN to represent you, we will give you the same advice we give each of our clients -- concentrate on your life, you family and your health. We will take care of everything else. Leave all of the work and worry about your legal rights to us. Trust us. Believe in us. Have faith in us as your attorneys. Understand that we will always to do what we believe is best for you and your case. Helping you is our job. In fact, it is our only job -- guiding injury victims like you through one of the most difficult times of your lives, with care and concern -- while fighting aggressively to the limits of the law to obtain compensation and justice for each of you!

Print our Personal Injury Questionnaire on our Website, Fill it out and Fax back, so we can determine if we can help you obtain an injury settlement. We would welcome an opportunity to prove to you what we have proven to thousands of injured clients -- that you can feel comfortable and secure in the fact that KENNETH VERCAMMEN - Trial Attorney We Fight To Win.

When you have been injured in an accident or collision, you are worried about who is going to pay your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. The last thing you want is to be taken advantage of by an insurance company. If you dont protect your rights, you may not be able to make a claim.

Insurance companies have attorneys and adjusters whose goal is to pay you as little as they can. You need a New Jersey personal injury lawyer to fight for you. I am dedicated to helping your recover as much money as possible under the law.

You need an attorney who will work hard to protect your rights, maximize your insurance settlement and minimize the hassles of dealing with the insurance companies. You need an experienced and aggressive New Jersey trial lawyer with PROVEN RESULTS who will fight for you. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer can make the difference between getting what you deserve and getting nothing.

Without the threat of a lawyer who is willing to go to trial and seek a big jury verdict, why would an insurance company pay you what your claim is really worth? Lawsuits can be expensive, and many people do not have the money to pursue their claim. In every case, I advance all costs associated with pursuing your case and I do not ask you for a penny until we recover from the other side.

I am an experienced aggressive trial lawyer and a 3rd degree Black Belt. I am not afraid to take your case to trial if that is what it takes to maximize the amount of money your recover for your personal injury. I offer one-on-one service, and I will not hand your case off to an inexperienced lawyer or a paralegal.

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p.s. For those clients who are afraid or reluctant to go to Court, KENNETH VERCAMMEN also offers a special -- For Settlement Only -- program. This means that if we are unable to settle with the insurance company, we will not go any further -- unless you want us to. You have my personal assurance that there will be absolutely no pressure and no obligation.

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Kenneth A. Vercammen is the Managing Attorney at Kenneth Vercammen & Associates in Edison, NJ. He is a New Jersey trial attorney has devoted a substantial portion of his professional time to the preparation and trial of litigated matters. He has appears in Courts throughout New Jersey each week on personal injury matters, Criminal /Municipal Court trials, and contested Probate hearings.

Mr. Vercammen has published over 125 legal articles in national and New Jersey publications on criminal, elder law, probate and litigation topics. He is a highly regarded lecturer on litigation issues for the American Bar Association, NJ ICLE, New Jersey State Bar Association and Middlesex County Bar Association. His articles have been published in noted publications included New Jersey Law Journal, ABA Law Practice Management Magazine, and New Jersey Lawyer. He is the Editor in Chief of the American Bar Association Tort and Insurance Committee Newsletter.

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