In an earlier blog, I explained how the matrimonial home is treated differently than other property. For example, Sarah owned a $300,000. house prior to the marriage which was then treated as the matrimonial home during the course of the marriage—i.e. the property was ‘ordinarily occupied’ by the parties’ and served as a family residence as of the date of separation. At the date of separation, the home was worth $350,000 (an increase in $50,000). The whole value of the home, however, would go on Sarah’s side of the ledger, not just the increase in the value of the home from the date of marriage to the date of separation. In other words, Sarah’s spouse is entitled to half the full value of the home. This doesn’t seem fair, does it?
As explained elsewhere in my website, the value of the property of the marriage is supposed to be shared equally (the value of the property, not the actual property). But sometimes this just isn’t fair!
A quick recap from Part 1: Under the Ontario Family Law Act, if you bring a residence into the marriage, one which is treated as the ‘matrimonial home’ as of the date of separation, you cannot deduct the date of marriage value of this home. The whole value will be included when it comes to determining the equalization payment owing by one to the other.
The ‘matrimonial home’ is treated differently than other types of property under the Family Law Act. Indeed, the matrimonial home is accorded its own special place—Part II of the Family Law Act.
A Matrimonial Home is defined as a property which at the time of separation was ‘ordinarily occupied by the person and his or her spouse as their family residence’. It should be noted that you could possibly have more than one matrimonial home. For example, if you owned a cottage as well, one that was enjoyed by the family on a regular and frequent basis, both home and cottage could be considered matrimonial homes, thereby falling under the provisions of Part II of the Family Law Act.
Is the definition of the matrimonial home important?
You bet it is.
Blake R. Lyngseth, Ottawa lawyer & mediator. Blogs primarily on issues of Ontario & Canadian family law & estate law.