Partition or not to partition in Virginia, that is the question.

Partition image

Sometimes individuals end up owning a piece of real property with other people that they don’t wish to share property interests with anymore.

If joint property owners cannot find a way to co-exist and share the property, often the best option in Virginia is a partition suit.

The most common situation when this occurs is when siblings or family members inherit a piece of property from a relative.

Who may bring a partition suit in Virginia is defined by Va. Code 8.01-81:

“Tenants in common, joint tenants, executors with the power to sell, and coparceners of real property, including mineral rights east and south of the Clinch River, shall be compellable to make partition and may compel partition, but in the case of an executor only if the power of sale is properly exercisable at that time under the circumstances; and a lien creditor or any owner of undivided estate in real estate may also compel partition for the purpose of subjecting the estate of his debtor or the rents and profits thereof to the satisfaction of his lien. Any court having general equity jurisdiction shall have jurisdiction in cases of partition; and in the exercise of such jurisdiction may take cognizance of all questions of law affecting the legal title that may arise in any proceedings, between such tenants in common, joint tenants, executors with the power to sell, coparceners and lien creditors.”

Jurisdiction for a partition suit is proper in the circuit court of where the property is located.

With large plots of land a “partition in kind” may be possible.  In this case the land is physically divided into separate plots and the former joint owners are granted full ownership of the newly created plots.  This usually works better when dealing with land where there is not a home on the property.

For smaller pieces of real property, a partition by sale is usually more appropriate.

Joint owners will be given the opportunity to buy out the interests of the other owners and maintain ownership of the property.  If none of the joint owners wish to, or are able to, buy the property, the circuit court will appoint a commissioner to oversee the sale.

The sale can be accomplished through a real estate broker or through the auction of the property.

If you have questions about a partition suit, please contact the attorneys of Winslow & McCurry, PLLC at (804)423-1382 or email us at