East Stroudsburg, PA asked in Civil Litigation for California

Q: In CA if a house is jointly owned by 2 ppl, would it be forfeiting ownership if 1 moved out b4 filing partition action?

A former couple owns a house in CA, one wants to sell one wants to keep the house. If the party who wants to sell moves out of the property before filing a partition action would they be forfeiting their ownership/ could the other party say they abandoned the property? What requirements (if any) would need to be met before moving out?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, simply moving out of a jointly owned property does not mean you forfeit your ownership rights. Ownership is determined by the title or deed of the property, not by whether one is physically residing there. Thus, one party moving out does not constitute abandonment of the property under the law.

If you're considering moving out and the other co-owner does not agree to sell, you have the option to file a partition action. This legal process can force the sale of the property if you cannot agree on its disposition. The fact that you have moved out will not negatively affect your rights in the partition action.

Before deciding to move out, it's wise to document your intentions and actions clearly. Communicate your plans to the other owner in writing, keeping copies for your records. This can help avoid any misunderstanding about your intentions regarding the property. Also, make sure to continue contributing to the costs associated with the property, like mortgage payments and taxes, unless other arrangements are made. This will further demonstrate your continued interest and responsibility towards the property.

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