Partition Actions Sometimes the Right Solution in Property Disputes

Disputes often arise between joint owners of property. The property at issue can range from a small five-acre farm to a large, multi-use commercial development. When such disputes do arise and the joint owner refuses requests to divide or sell the property, the other joint owner may file suit to have the property partitioned or sold at public auction.

Though cost prohibitive to some, a partition
action allows the parties to forever separate
their interests and avoid further bickering.
Partition actions in Kentucky are governed by
KRS 389.030. The basic steps in a partition action
are as follows:

1. One of the joint owners files a lawsuit in the circuit court for the sale or division of the property;
2. The other party either defaults or files an answer objecting to the sale or division;
3. If the party files a valid defense to the sale or division, the circuit court holds a bench trial to determine whether sale or division is most appropriate; and
4. If the judge rules that the property should not be divided, the matter is then referred to the master commissioner for sale at a public sale.

Kentucky law favors the division of jointly owned property when the division may be accomplished fairly and equitably. The key question in all partition actions is whether the property may be divided without materially impairing its value. Generally speaking, the burden is on the party opposing division to show that dividing the property will impair its value.