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  • kosullivan03


Updated: Jun 8

Have you broken up with someone but you still own a home or apartment together? As more people choose to live together and co-own property but not get married this scenario is becoming an increasingly common dilemma for unmarried couples when their relationship ends.

Since New York State does not recognize common law marriage it does not matter how long two people have been living together as a couple, if they are not legally married to one another the assets that they co-own will not be divided in a divorce proceeding. This leaves the parties with essentially three options to deal with the property they co-own.


Option # 1. One Party Purchases The Other Party’s Interest in the Property:

Many times when a couple breaks up one of the parties will wish to remain in the home or apartment that the couple previously occupied together. In order to accomplish this buyout of the other person's interest the two parties must agree on a buyout price. Many times this buyout of one party's interest in the property can be accomplished with a refinance of the property. This would allow the person who is remaining in the property to buyout the selling party's interest using the equity in the property as the basis for the new mortgage.  


Option # 2. Selling the Home/Apartment to a Third Party


If neither person wants to stay in the house they can agree to jointly sell the property, this is the clean slate solution. Once the parties agree to the terms of sale all that is left to do is to prepare the house for the sale and divide the sales proceeds at the time of the closing. So long as the parties can agree on how the proceeds are to be divided you can easily sell the house, this can allow you to reduce the amount of friction in what may already be a tense situation. 


Option # 3. Partition the Property


If the first two options are not available or if you and your ex are not able to reach an agreement on what to do you can file a partition action and request a court to intervene. In a partition action the court will typically review the evidence and then ask the parties to try and settle the matter via negotiations. If negotiations are unsuccessful the court may inquire if one person wants to buyout the other’s interest. If a buyout option is not possible the court may order the property sold and the proceeds divided per the results of a court ordered accounting.  In a partition action courts will look at the circumstances as a whole to determine the fairest outcome considering all of the evidence presented.


If you are considering taking any one of these steps your first call should be to a competent real estate attorney who can advise you as to what documentation and steps are necessary to protect your interests in this very important matter. Please feel free to call Kevin O'Sullivan at (718) 713-3499 or e-mail him at with any questions you may have or if you would like to schedule a free consultation.


This article is meant to be utilized as a general guideline. Nothing in this blog is intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to provide legal advice on which you should rely without talking to your own retained attorney first.


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