Understanding the matrimonial home

When you get divorced and you split up your property, one important designation to understand in Canada is that of the matrimonial home. This can be a home or property that you own both on the day you get divorced and the day you get married. You consistently owned it during your marriage, so it is your matrimonial home and will need to be split fairly between both people who lived there.

Since a home cannot be split, this naturally means it may need to be sold. The money is then divided.

Now, you don’t just have to have one matrimonial home. The court can determine that you have any number of these homes, depending on your situation. As such, this is a designation that can really impact a lot of your properties, and homes also tend to be the largest and most valuable assets that anyone owns.

This is important to understand for those who own homes when they are about to get married. You may think of the property as yours alone, but if you get married and then divorced with it still in your possession, the judge could consider it to be the matrimonial home, and then you and your spouse have an equal claim on it.

One way to get around this if you own more than one property is to sit down before the marriage and legally specify which property will count as your matrimonial home. When you do this, only that property can be selected. This could help you protect a family cabin or some other additional property.

Source: Credit Cards Canada, “6 ways to protect your finances in divorce,” Caitlin Kelly, accessed July 02, 2015

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