There are several ways of partitioning a sparse matrix over multiple processors. The scheme supported by all packages is partitioning by block rows.
Under this approach a processor can determine the ownership of any variable, by keeping a short list of first and last rows of each processor.
Under this scheme, each processor needs to maintain the mapping of its local rows to the global numbering. It is now no longer trivial to determine ownership of a variable.
When a sparse matrix is distributed, the local matrix on each processor needs to have its column indices mapped from the global to the local numbering. Various packages offer support for this renumbering.