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What Happens to Your House When You Split From Your Spouse?

  • Matrimonial Home Rights: Both spouses have the right to stay in the matrimonial home during separation, and properties used by both are considered matrimonial homes.
  • Equalization Process: The spouse with a higher net value compensates the lower net value spouse through an equalization process, including the value of the matrimonial home.
  • Common-Law Differences: Common-law couples are not subject to the same rules, and the home remains with the legal owner after separation.
Exterior View of a Family Home

What Will Happen to Your Home

One of the main concerns expressed by married couples who have separated is what will happen to their home.

Understanding the Matrimonial Home

The property occupied by both spouses in a marriage is known as the matrimonial home. If a married couple has multiple properties in the province such as a home and a cottage both properties will be considered matrimonial homes so long as both spouses use the property. If a married couple separates both spouses have a right to stay in the home and therefore they cannot lock each other out unless a court order or separation agreement stipulates otherwise.

Equalization of Net Family Property

When married couples split they conduct an "equalization of net family property" process. The spouse with a higher net value compensates the lower net value spouse with a specific sum. Each spouse calculates the value of their property minus debts and liabilities at the date of marriage and separation. The value at the date of marriage is subtracted from the valuation date's value to calculate the net family property value. The higher net value spouse pays 50% of the difference to the other spouse. For instance if one spouse has a net property value of $500,000 and the other spouse has a net property value of $200,000 the higher net value spouse would pay $150,000 to the other spouse.

Calculating the Matrimonial Home's Value

Understanding the equalization process is crucial because it includes the calculation of the net family property value which involves the matrimonial home. Regardless of its ownership or acquisition before or during the marriage if the home is used as a matrimonial home it is included in the calculation. In the event of a divorce if one spouse wants to keep the home they must buy out the other spouse. If the couple decides to sell the home each spouse is entitled to half of the proceeds from the sale.

Common-Law Relationships

It's important to note that the above rules apply only to married couples and not to common-law couples. If you are in a common-law relationship the home will remain in the possession of the legal owner if separation occurs.

Finding Help for Your Family Law Needs

We hope this post gave you a better understanding of your rights to the matrimonial home. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.