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How does the matrimonial home factor into your divorce?

Ontario divorce law provides that divorcing spouses’ property will be divided down the middle so that each party receives an equal share of assets. The idea is simple, but the reality is that property division in Ontario is far more complex than a 50-50 split, especially with regard to the matrimonial home.

Because each spouse is entitled to any increase in the value of matrimonial property, it is crucial to obtain an accurate valuation of assets. In some cases, it is also necessary to distinguish between matrimonial and excluded property. Property that is excluded from division may include inheritances or gifts that one spouse received from someone outside of the marriage. Generally, for property to be excluded, it must not have been invested in the matrimonial home.

As we often emphasize at, the family home is a central asset in many marriages. How the home is handled in divorce can affect every aspect of the settlement, including matters of child custody, child support and spousal support.

The law provides that both spouses have a right to stay in the matrimonial home. That is, unless a judge orders one spouse to leave. An order of exclusive possession requires that one spouse leave the home while the other stays. Typically, if the spouses have children together, the parent who stays in the home is the one who will have custody of the kids.

Because each spouse initially has an equal right to stay in the home, neither spouse may mortgage, sell, sublet or rent the property without the permission of the other spouse. This requirement applies even if only one spouse owns the property or if only one spouse’s name is on the lease.

To learn more about your property rights in divorce, please see’s property division overview.

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