For most couples, the matrimonial home represents the largest asset they jointly own, and has deep emotional resonance as the place where a marriage began, the place where children have grown up, and the place where memories are collected. Unsurprisingly, the matrimonial home and what becomes of it after a separation or divorce often become a point of contention, even for couples whose separation is otherwise amicable.
At Gelman & Associates, our knowledgeable family lawyers have decades of collective experience advising clients on division of property issues, including proactively and strategically guiding clients on what to do with the matrimonial home. We advocate for the optimal outcome for our clients, and are not afraid to get tough when needed.
Section 18(1) of the Family Law Act defines a matrimonial home as any property in which either spouse has an interest and which is currently, or was at the time of separation, “ordinarily occupied by the person and his or her spouse as their family residence.”
Under the definition of “matrimonial home” in the Family Law Act, more than one home can be considered the matrimonial home, provided it was regularly being used by both spouses at the time of separation. For example, if both spouses spent every weekend at the cottage together, it could be considered the matrimonial home. Conversely, if the couple owned a condo that was almost exclusively used by one spouse only, it would likely not be considered part of the matrimonial home.
Everyone has heard the horror stories about a spouse coming home one day to find all their things on the front lawn and the locks on the doors changed. This is not an approach any separating couple should contemplate, nor is it a legally reasonable or permissible approach for a spouse to take. Barring a court order or agreement between the parties, both parties have a right to equal possession of the matrimonial home; even if the home is only in one spouse’s name.
If there is an anticipated custody battle, a spouse should think twice before leaving the matrimonial home. When considering custody, the courts will always act in the best interest of the child. In many cases, it will be considered least disruptive (and therefore most beneficial) for children to remain in the matrimonial home. In such cases, leaving the home may weaken the argument for custody of the children. Unless a separation agreement is in place and custody issues have been settled, it is advisable to remain in the matrimonial home if custody of your children is desired.
In addition to being a significant asset, the matrimonial home is usually associated with deep emotional ties. At Gelman & Associates, we will provide compassionate, forward-thinking guidance to our clients while aggressively pursuing their legal interests. Call us at (416) 736-0200 or 1-844-736-0200 or contact us online.
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