If you and your spouse live together, in a house that one of you has an ownership interest in, the short answer is yes, but there is much more to it. Find out all about the matrimonial home.
Section 18 of the Family Law Act defines the matrimonial home as:
“Every property in which a person has an interest and that is or, if the spouses have separated, was at the time of separation ordinarily occupied by the person and his or her spouse as their family residence”.
Put simply, this means that if at the time of separation, spouses ordinarily occupy a property that at least one spouse has an ownership interest in, the usual rule wherein the spouses equally share the increase in each spouse’s net worth has no effect in regard to that property. Instead, the total value of the spouse’s ownership interest in the property is split evenly between the parties. This rule applies almost universally, albeit with limited exceptions, such as in the context of a very short marriage.
The matrimonial home is so exceptional that even funds that would otherwise be excluded from net family property calculations, such as money received as a result of an inheritance, are not given special treatment if they are invested in a matrimonial home.
Note that the matrimonial home status only applies in the context of legally married spouses. Common-law spouses cannot have a matrimonial home.
Yes, the language and the law are clear on this, spouses can share multiple matrimonial homes. The type of property can even make it more likely that it will be considered a matrimonial home depending on the common way the property in question is ‘ordinarily occupied’. For example, a cottage property can be ‘ordinarily occupied’ by spouses who use the property for a portion of the summer each year.
Yes! A matrimonial home is only a matrimonial home if the parties ordinarily reside at the property at the time of separation. Meaning that if the parties cease to reside there for example by renting it out or selling it prior to separation, the value of the home is divided in the same manner as any other property.
In Ontario, the matrimonial home is seen as more than just an asset and it is given special treatment in family law as a result. Regardless of which spouse owns the property, both spouses are equally entitled to remain in the home after separation, unless a court Orders otherwise.
Many people give legal ownership of a property to someone other than themselves, often a parent, in order to protect assets. If the true owner that is using another as a shield does not admit the truth of their arrangement, there are ways to resolve this issue. Overcoming this obstacle does require additional effort and cost however, depending on the situation, you can successfully argue that the house is really being held in trust for a true owner, rather than properly belonging to the person who owns the property on paper.
Quick Divorce can help you with your divorce and property division. Contact us today.