Balancing Equities in Partition Lawsuits

Partition Lawsuits and Equitable Division in Texas

In the realm of property ownership, disputes can arise, especially when co-owners cannot agree on how to manage, divide, or even sell the property.  In Texas, one common legal recourse for resolving such disputes is through a partition lawsuit.  Once a partition lawsuit is filed, and after the court proportions the shares of the property, the court must consider the interest of each party balanced against any equities.  When determining an equitable division of property, the court must look to see whether there are valuable improvements, contributions, or reimbursements that were paid by one co-tenant and not another to ensure an equitable division.


Improvements are defined as items that are over and above what is necessary for mere preservation of the property.  A co-tenant that improves property will recover from other co-tenants the value of the improvement to the property as of the time of the partition.  The court calculates the value of an improvement not by the cost of the improvement itself, but what the increased market value of the property is as a result of such improvement.  


Maintenance expenses are those incurred for the preservation and upkeep of the property, which includes repairs.  A co-tenant who takes on necessary expenses for maintenance of the property is entitled to reimbursement from other co-tenants, so long as these expenses were necessary for the property’s preservation.   These expenses would be divided according to the co-tenant’s pro rata share in the property.

Taxes/Insurance/Mortgage Payments

Taxes, insurance, and mortgage payments are necessary expenses to preserve the common property, and a co-tenant who pays such expenses is entitled to reimbursement from the other co-tenant for their proportionate share of such payments in accordance with their pro rata ownership of the property. 


A co-tenant who incurs service expenses needed to preserve the common property will also be entitled to reimbursement from other co-tenants in accordance with their pro rata share in the property.  Necessary service expenses include costs to clean up a property after a fire or the relocation of a waterline.  Necessary services expenses do not include compensation for personal services in managing the property. 

Equitable contributions play a vital role in partition lawsuits in Texas, ensuring that co-owners are treated fairly and justly in the division of property proceeds.  Understanding the principles of equitable contributions and the factors considered by courts can help co-owners navigate partition actions and advocate for their rights effectively. 

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