Mark K. McCown: Trailer becomes issue after couple’s breakup

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 5, 2022

DEAR LAWYER MARK: I gotta question about trying to get some property back.

My boyfriend and me bought a trailer a couple of years ago and lived in it until we broke up last month. The trailer is on his mom’s property, so I had to leave.

Well now, we paid a lot for it, and I think it is still worth $7,500.

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He told me that since it sits on his mom’s property, I don’t have no rights to it.

I said I could just move it to my dad’s property, but my ex won’t let me.

Is there anything I can do to get the trailer? — HOMELESS IN THE COUNTY

Dear Homeless: You may not be able to get the trailer, but you can possibly force the trailer to be sold and the monies split.

I’ve written in this column before about “partition” of real estate, where real estate is owned by multiple people.

If one of those owners wants it sold, that owner can force the property to be sold by going through a “partition” action.

The procedures for a partition of real estate are spelled out in the Ohio Revised Code.

Your trailer, however, is not “real estate.”

Under the law, the trailer is considered “personalty,” or what most people call personal property. If the trailer was titled in both your names, then you are joint owners. The Revised Code does not have a procedure for partitioning personalty, but you can still do it as a result of court cases.

In the case of McCarthy v. Lippitt, the 7th District Court of Appeals ruled that even though the Revised Code does not set forth a procedure for partition, it is still allowed under common law.

The court recognized that if this were not the case, there would be no other way for courts to divide the joint property of unmarried people.

It should also be noted that in partition actions, attorney’s fees of the plaintiff are considered costs of the suit.

That has the effect of the other owner of the property basically paying half of the attorney’s fees.

I recommend you take a copy of the title to your family attorney, and let him know the specific facts of your case.

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.