Issue of co-ownership prerequisite to issuance of partition order

In actions for partition, the court cannot properly issue an order to divide the property, unless it first makes a determination as to the existence of co-ownership. The court must initially settle the issue of ownership, the first stage in an action for partition. Needless to state, an action for partition will not lie if the claimant has no rightful interest over the subject property. In fact, Section 1 of Rule 69 requires the party filing the action to state in his complaint the nature and extent of his title to the real estate. Until and unless the issue of ownership is definitely resolved, it would be premature to effect a partition of the properties. [G.R. No. 109262. November 21, 1996]