As you probably know, when a married couple in Virginia gets divorced, state law requires them to divide their property equitably. But what happens to co-owned property when an unmarried couple ends their relationship? In those cases, there is no formal process for property division, even if the couple has been together for years and jointly acquired valuable assets like real estate.
This is about more than dividing up the record collection and who gets to keep which piece of furniture. A house, investment property or other piece of real estate can be worth millions of dollars. If you and your ex jointly own a property, it can be challenging to agree on what to do with it. For example, you might want to keep the house and continue living in it, but your ex may want to sell.
Partition actions and breakups
If you and your ex cannot decide on your own what to do, a partition action might be the solution. As we have discussed before in this blog, a partition action is a court decision that decides the fate of a piece of co-owned property. The co-owners go to court and present their cases, and the judge decides whether 1) one co-owner will buy out the other(s) or 2) the co-owners must sell to a third party.
Having a neutral third party decide what to do with real property can be a good solution when nothing else has helped. It can be especially useful when the emotions of the breakup make it virtually impossible for the exes to discuss business matters calmly. Ultimately, it can help take the place of the property division process involved in divorce.