What is a Partition in Florida?
In Florida, partition is a legal process by which co-owners of a property can divide it into separate shares or interests. This may be necessary if the co-owners can’t agree on how to use or manage the property, or if they want to sell their share and divide the proceeds. Partition is governed by Chapter 64 of the Florida Statutes and allows co-owners to seek a court order to divide the property either physically or by selling it and dividing the proceeds. The court will consider the rights and interests of all parties involved and make a decision on how to divide the property. In some cases, co-owners may be able to avoid a partition action by coming to an agreement on their own. However, if they can’t reach an agreement, a partition action may be necessary to resolve the dispute and divide the property fairly.
Are Attorney Fees and Costs Recoverable?
Under Florida Statute 64.081, if a property is partitioned, either through a court order or by agreement between the co-owners, then every party is required to pay a share of the attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in the partition process. These fees and costs are to be determined on equitable principles and are to be paid in proportion to the party’s interest in the property. However, if the court does not order partition, then attorneys’ fees may not be awarded, as recovery of attorneys’ fees is prohibited in a suit for partition where partition is not granted. This is supported by case law, such as Harmon v. Harmon and Cannon v. Morris, which have held that it is improper to award attorneys’ fees under Florida Statute 64.081 in the absence of partition.
Fla. Stat. 64.081 provides:
64.081 Costs; taxes; attorneys’ fees.—Every party shall be bound by the judgment to pay a share of the costs, including attorneys’ fees to plaintiff’s or defendant’s attorneys or to each of them commensurate with their services rendered and of benefit to the partition, to be determined on equitable principles in proportion to the party’s interest. Such judgment is binding on all his or her goods and chattels, lands, or tenements. In case of sale the court may order the costs and fees to be paid or retained out of the moneys arising from the sale and due to the parties who ought to pay the same. All taxes, state, county, and municipal, due thereon at the time of the sale, shall be paid out of the purchase money.
If you are dealing with a Partition case in Florida, it is important to seek the assistance of an experienced attorney. Our firm litigates partition cases and has extensive experience in this area. If you are facing a dispute over the division of property with co-owners, call our firm today to schedule a free consultation.