The Matrimonial Home – Who Stays, Who Leaves, Who Owns?

Depending on whether a couple is married or living common-law, Ontario’s laws governing the fate of a habitual residence are very different. When cohabiting spouses separate, the party listed on a home’s title deed or lease agreement can swiftly boot out the other – no automatic right to stay, no right to share the value. For married couples, the situation plays out more favourably.

When a married couple splits up, both have the legal right to stay in the matrimonial home (or homes) that are located in Ontario. This “right to possession” deals strictly with the right to live in the home, regardless of technical ownership.

Same goes for rentals – both parties have the right to stay.

The Right To Possession

Self-initiated attempts to change the locks, refuse entry or evict the other party can put one on the wrong side of the law. The right to live in the matrimonial home doesn’t end until one of a few possible events takes place:

•Both parties agree to such in a separation agreement

•A court order grants exclusive possession to one party

•Both consent to end the lease or sell the home

•The couple divorces

Sharing The Value

Once married, both parties have the automatic right to share 50/50 in the value of the matrimonial home. This applies even if only one spouse has title or brought the home into the relationship. Unless there’s a court order, neither can sell without the other’s consent.

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