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What Is a Partition Referee?

ANAND LAW PC > What Is a Partition Referee?

What Does a  Partition Referee Do?

General Overview

A partition referee is a neutral third party appointed by a court to oversee the partition or division of real or personal property. Partition referees are appointed in partition actions where co-owners are segregating and terminating their common property interests.

In California, joint owners of real property may file a lawsuit seeking to have their joint interest in the property partitioned. The need for a partition often arises in situations where there is a divorce or other break up or after a death where multiple parties have an inherited interest and are in disagreement as to their interests or how to divide them. It may also occur when multiple parties own a property that only one of them is living in.

One co-owner of the property in dispute will file a complaint with the court, which begins an action of partition. The court typically will initially determine each party’s interest and the method of partition in an interlocutory judgment.

Partition by Sale or Partition by Appraisal

Usually, the court will order a division by sale unless the parties agree to partition by appraisal or the court determines a division in kind (i.e. physical division) is possible. Once this is determined, the court appoints a partition referee to handle the actual partition of the property. The partition referee may be authorized to employ attorneys, surveyors, engineers, and others to carry out the division.

Partition by Valuation

If the parties agree, the property can be partitioned based on a valuation.  There are a number of ways to do this, but generally an appraiser will be agreed upon, or the parties will submit names to the Referee and/or the Court, and one will be selected (of course, these parameters can vary based on the parties creativity and leverage); and after a final valuation is set based on the parameters agreed to, each party will be given a chance to buy the other out, and if neither does, the property will be sold and the proceeds divided based on ownership interests, other adjustments, and equity.

As part of the partition process, there will be an accounting of charges and credits to each co-owner’s share. Both plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) will want to seek reimbursement of money spent to maintain, improve or preserve property that benefits all co-owners. Credits can include expenditures in excess of the co-owner’s fractional share for necessary repairs, improvements that enhance the value of the property, taxes, payments of principal and interest on mortgages, and other liens, insurance for common benefit, and protection and preservation of title.

Partition of Heirs Property

The Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act provides a rare exception to partition law, and applies to all partition actions filed after January 1, 2022 (but before January 1, 2023, as the Partition of Real Property Act then took effect and replaced the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act).   As noted above, ordinarily, co-owners can force the sale of a property through an action for partition. As also noted above, if the co-owners agree, they can choose to partition by appraisal.   Aside from this, the other co-owners essentially have no defense to an action for partition by sale.

Under the Uniform Partition of Heirs Act, however, when an action for partition is filed by a co-owner of inherited property, the other co-owners/heirs are provided with an opportunity to buy out the property at fair market value.  The co-owner seeking to buy out the others’ shares must timely make an election with the court and timely deposit sufficient funds with the court.


When seeking the appointment of a partition referee, it is important to find a firm that has knowledge of property law, litigation, and real estate markets. ANAND LAW has in-depth knowledge of all three, which allows us to resolve partition disputes quickly and fairly for all parties involved.

We have experience to deal with any issue that may arise in a partition action, including: corporate ownership, sale of attendant business, unlawful detainer (evictions), quiet title, boundary disputes, TIC properties, tenant properties, unexpired  leases, hazardous materials, code violations, mechanics liens, unrecorded easements, and HOA regulations.  We ensure that all potential pitfalls are accounted for in order to resolve your situation with finality.

We have a network of agents throughout Southern California which allows us to provide hyper-localized expertise of the markets, and maximize value for you and your clients. We also routinely work with a variety of developers, contractors, brokers, agents, investors, family offices, experts (including construction, geology, and handwriting), appraisers, notaries.

Partition Referee Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino
Partition Referee Los Angeles, Orange Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, San Diego

ANAND LAW is composed of attorneys, business/financial strategists, and real estate brokers.   We act as a court appointed Partition Referee throughout California, including in the cities and areas of Los Angeles, Pasadena, Arcadia, Burbank, La Canada Flintridge, Covina, West Covina, Downey, Santa Monica, Glendale, Eagle Rock, Hollywood, Atwater Village, Echo Park, Glassell Park, Loz Feliz, Silverlake, Highland Park, Boyle Heights, Hancock Park, Cheviot Hills, Koreatown, Miracle Mile, Mid City, Venice, Van Nuys, Encino, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Panorama City, North Hills, West Hills, Thousand Oaks, Calabasas, Granada Hills, Long Beach, Glendora, Anaheim, Inglewood, Santa Ana, Beverly Hills, Pomona, Marina Del Rey, Playa Del Rey, Mar Vista, Culver City, Cheviot Hills, Holmby Hills, Westchester, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Huntington Beach, Orange, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Moorpark, Fresno, Stockton, San Francisco, Berkeley, and communities throughout Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, San Diego, Ventura, San Francisco, Alameda, and Mendocino Counties.

The information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information contained is not intended to be a complete recitation of the law, and is provided only as general information in an area—it may not contain all nuances of the law, and is not guaranteed to be correct or complete.  ANAND LAW PC (“ALPC”) expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on the information contained in the FAQ.

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