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What Happens To The Matrimonial Home When Separating Or Divorcing?

When going through divorce or separation, the law mandates that both family assets and family debts be divided evenly between the estranged spouses.

Unless there is an agreement in place that says otherwise, the court will usually split family property evenly. That includes the former couple’s matrimonial home.

To be considered a matrimonial home, it is not necessary that both spouses bought it together. It is enough that one spouse acquired it during the relationship.

Are Only Married Couples Entitled To Equal Division Of Matrimonial Property?

The province modernized the Family Relations Act in 2013. The Act is now called the Family Law Act. Under the new rules, common law partners are included in the definition of “spouse”, so long as the couple co-habited for a minimum of two years in a marriage like relationship. This means they have the same right to division of the matrimonial home as legally married spouses.

Is The Home Still Divided Equally If I Acquired It Prior To The Spousal Relationship?

No. In the above case, the home will be considered “excluded property.” However, that does not mean that there is no division whatsoever. If the property increased in value during the relationship, then the court would divide the increase in value between the spouses.

Equal Division Exception

Apart from acquiring the property before marriage, the only case in which the court would not divide assets equally is if it would be “significantly unfair”. The court considers factors such as:

  • Whether any written agreements were made
  • How long the relationship between the spouses lasted
  • If the family debts are higher than the family assets

The lawyers at Peterson Stark Scott can advise separating parties on their rights regarding the division of a matrimonial home.

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