4 Facts About the Matrimonial Home in Ontario Divorce
In a Canadian divorce case, the home that spouses share is not just an asset you used as shelter. It was your refuge, the place where you made lifelong memories and possibly raised children. Your home is probably also among the most valuable you own. For these and other reasons, the Ontario Family Law Act (FLA) treats the matrimonial home differently from bank accounts, vehicles, and personal property. Property division rules and equalization may result in an outcome you did not expect.
If you are contemplating divorce or going through the process, it is crucial to understand your rights regarding the matrimonial home. FLA provides an entire, separate section on how this unique asset is divided between spouses in divorce, so the concepts are complex. A Mississauga property division lawyer can explain how the provisions affect your case, but there are some facts to know about the matrimonial home in Ontario divorce.
- What Constitutes the Matrimonial Home: The law states that the marital home is every property that either spouse has an interest in, and which is ordinarily occupied as a family residence. As such, there may be more than one matrimonial home if the spouses occupied it together regularly. When they spend some of the year in a primary residence and remaining time in their cottage, both would be considered the matrimonial home.
- Treatment in Equalization: With most assets, FLA requires equalization of all net family property. The spouse whose net family property is lower will receive one-half the difference between their own value and that of the other spouse. However, the value of the marital home is not deducted from a spouse’s net family property (NFP) even if that person did own it before getting married. The home’s value is split equally between the spouses.
- Agreements on the Matrimonial Home: FLA dictates how the residence is handled in divorce when the court must decide the matter. Still, you can always enter into an agreement with your spouse, and it can deviate from what FLA requires. Parties can agree to an uneven split from the proceeds of the sale, or one spouse may seek to buy the other out.
- No Rights in Common Law Marriages: For couples who live together as spouses but are not married, provisions on the matrimonial home do not apply. There was no marriage, so there is no marital residence. However, if you contributed significantly to the home owned by your common law partner, you may have a constructive trust. You can enforce your rights by seeking monetary damages for the contributions you made.
Consult with an Ontario Property Division Lawyer About Your Rights
The matrimonial home is one of the most important assets you will need to address in divorce, so retaining experienced legal representation is essential. Our team at Zagazeta Garcia Lawyers LLP is knowledgeable about FLA and skilled in property division matters. Please contact our Mississauga offices today at 905-232-0398 or visit our website to set up a free consultation with an Ontario property division lawyer.