“Partition” is a legal term in which a Court can order that real estate with multiple owners be divided/partitioned. In Missouri, there are two methods of partition. Vickers v. Vickers, 762 S.W.2d 482, 483 (Mo. Ct. App. 1988). A court may (1) partition in kind or may (2) order a sale and division of the proceeds if it finds partition in kind cannot be made without great prejudice to the owners. See Rule 96.
A partition in kind is where the Court actually divides the real estate itself among the co-owners/tenants, creating separate parcels of real estate which are wholly owned independently by the former co-owners. The nature and layout of the specific piece of real estate will determine whether partition in kind is feasible; as such, Missouri law provides that if partition in kind cannot be accomplished without “great prejudice to the parties in interest,” the Court may order a sale of the property and a division of its proceeds.
Partition in Missouri is strictly statutory and must be carried out in compliance with Missouri statutes and Supreme Court Rules. Parks v. Rapp, 907 S.W.2d 286, 290 (Mo. Ct. App. 1995). Failure to follow those rules can result in a partition sale being voided. For example, all real estate subject to a partion sale in Missouri must be sold by a court-appointed commissioner or by a sheriff at public auction. See Section 528.590, RSMo; see Vickers, 762 S.W.2d at 484 (finding it was improper where the land was not sold at public auction by the sheriff but a private sale under a real estate contract).
In light of the intricacies of partition requests, and the inherent tensions that can arise in multi-party cases, contact us with questions.