Court Referee / Partition Referee Explained in Simple Terms
Not all court receivers are appointed as court referees. Not all court referees are partition referees. In fact, they are many different types of appointments. In each instance, the court receiver, court referee, and partition refere is appointed to a case by the judge, but that’s about as similar as they are.
A court referee, aka a petition referee, is appointed over a very specific type of case with a very specific type of expected outcome. A court referee is appointed to help resolve a dispute between co-owners of a real or personal property.
A court referee, court-appointed court referee, or a partition referee, are all terms used to describe the neutral third party appointed by the judge to help resolve the dispute. The purpose of this appointment involves the dispute over real or personal property and its division or sale.
The judge, as a representative of the Court, has authority of appointing a court referee to take charge of cases involving the following:
- Disputes among Family Members,
- Disputes involving One or More Missing Owners,
- Disputes among Business Partners, and
- Disputes between Spouses.
A partition action often occurs when a co-owner of real property wants to sell the property or their ownership interest and the other co-owners don’t want to sell. The opposing co-owners have a legal right to have the property divided and sell their interest/portion by way of partition. The co-owner that wants to sell their interest will file a lawsuit that asks the Court to order that the property is divided or sold in the partition action.
It is up to the discretion of the judge to interpret the case as it pertains to CCP 873.010 (a) “The court shall appoint a referee to divide or sell the property as ordered by the court.” According to CCP 873.210 The referee is “appointed through an interlocutory judgment.” The judge may decide when and if a court referee will be appointed.
Once the judge has appointed the court referee or partition referee and according to CCP 873.060, the court-appointed court referee, “may perform any acts necessary to exercise the authority conferred by this title or by order of this court.” The actions taken by the court referee may include, but are not limited to:
- Hiring an Attorney, Real Estate Agents, or other Professionals; and
- Signing Closing Paperwork, Deeds, Listing Agreements, or Contracts.
It is the duty of the court-appointed court referee / court-appointed partition referee to oversee all processes involved in the partition of the property and perform his or her duties as ordered by the court.
San Francisco Court Referee / Partition Referee: Partition Actions
A partition action is one of the primary duties of a court referee / partition referee. As defined by the court, a partition action is a lawsuit filed by a co-owner of real or personal property requesting the court’s assistance with the division of the asset in question.
The origin of partition actions began when multiple owners of a single real estate holding asked the court for help dividing the property into equal shares that could be distributed among the parties.
Today, partition actions include, but are not limited to:
- Actions Involving Community Property,
- Actions Involving Joint Tenancy, and
- Actions Involving Tenancy in Common.
Common situations in which partition actions take place include:
The inheritance of real and personal property amongst (it’s usually between family members,
Divorce proceedings involving properties where both spouses have an ownership interest, and
Business partners and investors that with the same or separate values of ownership in real and/or personal property (unless the investors or partners contractually waived their right to partition).
San Francisco Court Referee / Partition Referee: Definition of Success
In order for a partition referee to be successful, they must:
- Be intimately familiar with the partition process,
- Understand how to utilize experienced brokers and other professionals that will ensure an effective partition of the particular asset being partitioned,
- Know how to interface with the parties to the case and the appointing court, and
- Use a proper business approach to maximize the value of the property if it’s being sold and handle any challenges that might arise during the process.
Kevin Singer of Receivership Specialists is a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience as a referee partitioning real and personal property and dealing with attorneys in various areas of law, the courts, lenders, accountants, and financial institutions.