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Separating fact from fiction regarding a matrimonial home

When you and your spouse first married, you probably didn't ever want to think about the possibility of splitting up. However, you may now be facing a reality in which a separation and/or divorce appears to be the best option for your future. One of the biggest questions that you may have is who will have the right to continue to live in the home you share with your spouse.

Ontario law considers the home in which a married couple is residing to be a matrimonial home -- that applies whether you own or rent the home. If you've been living with your partner without being legally married -- or common law -- different legalities would come into play upon separation since this specific law regarding the matrimonial home only applies to married couples.

Will separating from my spouse affect my right to live in our home?

Regardless of whether your spouse is the owner of the matrimonial home or if he or she is the only one on a rental lease, as a married couple, you both retain an equal right to live in the matrimonial home. You also have a right to part of the matrimonial home's worth, even if your spouse already had the home before you married. In these cases, even if you choose to separate from your partner and move out of the home, you still retain these rights under the law.

What could cause my right to live in our home to end?

Both you and your ex have an equal right to live in your home unless a separation agreement or a court order states otherwise. In the event that either the lease ends or the home sells, those rights would also stop. Finally, if you're not on the property's title in the event of a divorce, you would lose your equal rights to the home. This is why many individuals wait until they either have a court order or an agreement concerning the matrimonial home before they proceed with a divorce.

Living together, but apart

If you and your ex have an amicable relationship, you might want to consider continuing to live in the same home. The law says you can be separated yet still share a residence. Friends often share a home. If you have children, this scenario might be better for them as well. It may also be financially prudent. If this is not possible, asking yourselves some pointed questions about who should live in the home will most likely be necessary.

Where to turn for support

Whether you are currently considering or you are already facing a divorce, you most likely have many questions and concerns about several aspects of the process, including those related to your home. Acquiring experienced legal counsel can ensure that all of your rights are protected during this challenging time, and it can increase your odds of obtaining the best possible outcome, allowing you to move forward toward a brighter future. 

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