Thursday, July 21, 2011

Partition Suit: Lawsuit to divide land have special quirks


A partition case, unlike other proceedings, has two final judgments, and the first one is appealable as a final judgment. Griffin v. Wolfe, 610 S.W.2d 466, 466 (Tex. 1980).

The first decree determines the interest of each of the joint owners or claimants, all questions of law affecting the title, and appoints commissioners and gives them appropriate directions. Ellis v. First City Nat’l Bank, 864 S.W.2d 555, 557 (Tex. App.–Tyler 1993, writ denied); see also TEX. R. CIV. P. 760, 761.

The second decree approves the report of the commissioners and sets aside to the parties their separate shares. Ellis, 864 S.W.2d at 557.

In addition to determining the basic issues of partitionability in kind and the fractional interest of the parties, the trial court also has the power during the initial stage of the partition proceeding to adjust all equities between the parties. Yturria v. Kimbro, 921 S.W.2d 338, 342 (Tex. App.–Corpus Christi 1996, no writ); see also Snow v. Donelson, 242 S.W.3d 570, 572 (Tex. App.–Waco 2007, no pet.) (“The trial court applies the rules of equity in determining the broad question of how property is to be partitioned”).
Proof is made to the fact finder at trial of the existence and value of improvements to the property at the time of partition and of other equitable considerations that may warrant awarding a particular portion of the property to one of the parties. Id. The general rule is that where improvements have been made upon the property sought to be partitioned, the improved portion will be allotted to the part owner who has made the improvements if this can be done without prejudice to the other owners. Price v. Price, 394 S.W.2d 855, 858 (Tex. Civ. App.–Tyler 1965, writ ref’d n.r.e.).

SOURCE: Tyler Court of Appeals - 12-10-00270-CV - 7/13/11

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