Under the Ontario Family Law Act, matrimonial home is defined as ‘every property in which a person has an interest and that is or, if spouses have separated, was at the time of separation ordinarily occupied by the person and his/her spouse as their family residence’. A home is a matrimonial home only if spouses are married.
The Family Law Act gives a special treatment to matrimonial home when spouses separate. Let us see how.
Right to Possession: Both spouses have equal right to possession, regardless of ownership. This means they both have equal rights to live in the home. When spouses separate, the non-owner spouse is entitled to live the house. The owner spouse cannot ask the non-owner spouse to move out of the matrimonial home unless there is a separation agreement or a court order.
Prohibition against Sale: The owner spouse cannot dispose of or encumber an interest in a matrimonial home. Under the Ontario Family Law Act, this can be done only if:
- The other spouse consents to the transaction;
- The other spouse has released all rights under this Part by a separation agreement;
- The court has ordered the authorization of the transaction;
- The property is not designated by both spouses as a matrimonial home and a designation of another property has been made by both spouses which is registered in the relevant land registry office and not cancelled.
If either of the spouse disposes of or encumbers an interest in a matrimonial home in contravention of the above, the court may set aside such the transaction on an application made the other spouse having an interest in the property.
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