How Is The Matrimonial Home Treated In Divorce?

For many married couples, the family home is often the largest and most valuable asset they share. If you are married but have decided to end the union, you face many important questions: Who may stay in the home? What if one spouse brought the home into the marriage? Are both entitled to an equal share?

At Nathens, Siegel LLP, we can help you understand what the law says, and to protect your rights involving this important family property.

What Is A Matrimonial Home?

The matrimonial home is the property that a couple normally occupied together before separation. Many couples have only one matrimonial home, but others have more. High net-worth separation and divorce may involve a second home, cottages, vacation properties, farms or other properties that may also be considered a matrimonial home.

In such cases, you need to determine which of the various properties fall under the legal definition of a matrimonial home. Without such clarity, you could be receiving less or paying more than is fair in the division of property.

Equal Right To Possession

Under the law, both parties have the right to live in the matrimonial home after separating. Regardless of whose name appears on the title deed, neither has the right to order the other to leave or to sell the property without the other's consent or court order. If you can't agree about who should stay in the home after separation, our lawyers can help negotiate an interim arrangement.

Even after deciding that one spouse will move out, the party who stays has no right to bar the other from home. If this happens, seek legal advice immediately. We can help you determine if there is a valid reason for one spouse to have exclusive possession of the home.

Equalization Of Net Family Property

In Ontario, marriage partners are entitled to equalization of net family property. Both share equally in the value of any property acquired during the marriage. For property brought into the marriage, the owner retains it, but must share any increase in its value over the course of the marriage.

The matrimonial home is an exception to this rule. Even if one party owned the home before the marriage, both spouses share equally in its full value, not just the increase in value during the marriage. Understanding this point is critical in protecting your rights and financial best interests in divorce.

Consult About Your Property Division Case

Our lawyers can help you understand and protect your rights in separation and divorce. We offer initial consultations at a rate discounted from our usual fees. Call us today to arrange a meeting today at one of our two offices in Toronto or Mississauga, Ontario. Contact us at 1-888-353-1817 or email us through our online form.