What is a matrimonial home in Ontario?

In Ontario, any home that the parties had an interest at some time or on separation was ordinarily occupied by the person and his or her spouse as their family residence will be deemed to be a matrimonial home.

This definition is found in section 18 of the Family Law Act.  More than one home may qualify as a matrimonial home. 

At law the matrimonial home is treated differently when a couple splits up. When a party is assessing their worth for the purposes of family court they will include the entire value of the matrimonial home.  Also, both parties have an equal interest in the home for the purposes of assessing their net family worth or in other words Net Family Property. Regardless, of who actually has legal ownership of the home.

The most concerning aspect of the matrimonial home has to do with previous ownership. In other words, if Fred Flintstone owned the home prior to getting married to Wilma, yet the family lived in the home during their marriage. This home and its entire value will be included in the couples Net Family Property. The only way around this is to either enter into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement prior to marriage or a Marriage Contract during the marriage. The more drastic step would be for Fred to sell the home during the marriage.

What is Equalization of Net Family property?

In Ontario when parties become married they enter into an arrangement whereby they have an inherent equal interest in whatever the marriage produces. As a result, on the break down of the marriage a court must assess the couples net worth in property or in other words net family property. Parties will seek to establish their assets and debts when they were married and on the date of separation. The value of assets on the date of marriage is subtracted from the value of assets on the date of separation. The date of separation is also referred to as the valuation date or "V" day. Meaning what was the value of everything.

Additional items that can be included in the net family property calculation include:

  • Pensions
  • Real Estate Interests
  • Bank Accounts
  • RRSPs
  • TFSAs
  • Business Interests
  • Debts
  • Other valuable property






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