News & Information: Orlando REALTOR® magazine - Law & Ethics

Informal Partition

Friday, April 1, 2016  
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Orlando REALTOR® | MarchApril 2016

A negotiated agreement on sales procedure helps high-conflict property owners avoid unnecessary battles

By Stephen C.L. Chong, Esq.

Husband and wife are getting divorced and have to sell a piece of marital real property. However they cannot agree with one another to set the sales price and terms; get the house cleaned; or make repairs. They will both spend a small fortune arguing over all of these issues.

A widow dies and leaves her home to her children, who have been estranged for many years. They cannot agree on any issues of sale.

In both of the above scenarios, the property is caught in stalemate. If there is a mortgage, it will not get paid because the parties will not agree on who should pay. The same will hold true on maintenance expenses and taxes.

Convincing the parties to agree to hire a special magistrate under Sec. 64.061(4) Florida Statutes — called informal partition — is a solid solution. If the parties can agree that an attorney be appointed by the court to sell the property, handle all presale decisions, sift through the offers, authorize repairs and clean up, sign the deed and closing documents, and deposit the net proceeds into the Court Registry or an attorney’s trust account after the sale, this arrangement can save everyone time and money (and get your listing closed).

This arrangement is not a formal partition action, but rather a negotiated agreement on sales procedure. Litigating a full partition case can be time consuming and expensive. The same is true for litigating over the sales procedure. However, if the parties can agree that an independent attorney will assume responsibility for the sales procedure, the parties can reduce their arguments to the division of the sales proceeds rather than the process.

Moreover, in many cases the proceeds will be divided equally or as part of an overall marital settlement agreement. Thus, having the process of sale resolved avoids many conflicts. The informal partition procedure is a helpful and useful alternative to litigating over the details of sale.

Stephen C. L. Chong, Esq., Mateer & Harbert, P.A., can be reached at and is a member of the Central Florida Real Estate Attorneys Council. CFREAC provides this column as a service to ORRA members for general understanding of the law, not as a substitute for individual legal advice and should not be relied on in specific situations without consulting a real estate attorney. For more information, visit


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