What Is a Matrimonial Home?


Your home is a matrimonial home – regardless of who owns the property.

For most couples, the matrimonial home is their largest asset. As the presumed core of family life, it also gets special consideration during a divorce proceeding. However, not only are there legal rights that are unique to matrimonial homes, but the matrimonial home can also crucially affect the practical outcome of your divorce and how all other major issues are decided.

The goal of MatrimonialHome.com is to help you understand your rights in divorce and to obtain early advice. Elliot S. Birnboim, a senior litigator in downtown Toronto, can provide a practical roadmap to navigate how to ensure your divorce plays out fairly. It often starts with an understanding of how your rights in the matrimonial home will affect your divorce

The goal of MatrimonialHome.com is to help you understand your rights in divorce and to obtain early advice. Elliot S. Birnboim, a senior family law lawyer in downtown Toronto, can provide a practical roadmap to navigate to ensure your divorce plays out fairly. It often starts with an understanding of how your rights in the matrimonial home will affect your divorce.

You can have more than one matrimonial home.

Secondary residences, such as cottages or vacation property, are frequently considered matrimonial homes.

The names on the property title only mean so much.

In many cases, only one spouse is named as the property owner. However, in some cases, due to family circumstances, the home even may be registered in the name of the parents of one of the spouses or other third parties. This does not mean the property is not a matrimonial home. Handling these situations where title to the matrimonial home is in the name of third parties requires particular thought and considerations with experienced counsel.

Critical rights arise in the matrimonial home.

Understanding how your rights in the matrimonial home affect your divorce is complicated. It requires a consideration of the following unique issues:

  • Both parties have right of possession of the matrimonial home, regardless of ownership.
  • A prenup (marriage contract) cannot limit this right.
  • The court can grant exclusive possession of the matrimonial home – but criminal charges may have the same result, again, regardless of ownership.
  • A spouse cannot sell the matrimonial home without the written consent of the other spouse.
  • A spouse cannot mortgage or borrow against the matrimonial home without the written consent of the other spouse.
  • A court can force the sale of the matrimonial home but may choose not to, leaving a spouse in long-term possession of the matrimonial home.
  • A court will rarely force one spouse to sell to the other, whether or not this is sensible or efficient – but this result may be achieved through careful planning and execution.
  • Unlike any other assets, the day that you get married, effectively half the equity in the home is "gifted" to the other spouse.
  • The unique treatment of gifts and inheritances is lost once they are invested in the matrimonial home.

These are merely some of the complex considerations that arise in respect to the matrimonial home on the breakdown of a marriage. How these issues play out requires careful planning and strategic thinking. There is no substitute for proper, experienced and early legal advice.

Speak to an experienced lawyer early to understand your rights.

Divorce is complicated. Things don’t just work themselves out. Understanding your rights at the outset of a separation with an experienced Ontario family law lawyer is crucial to preserving your rights and developing a roadmap to a successful divorce.

There is no charge for an initial consultation with Elliot S. Birnboim.

Call for a free consultation.

Call us today at 1.800.648.7943 or 416-800-2573. You can also use our online contact form.

call us now to get results 1.800.648.7943