Property Division, Sharing & The Matrimonial Home

The Matrimonial Home: Rights and Responsibilities in Ontario 

Written by Russell Alexander / (905) 655-6335

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Hosted weekly by Associate Lawyer, Stephanie Brooks, and Articling Students, Joseph B. Cugini and Shanza Sohail.

Want to understand your rights and responsibilities with the matrimonial home in Ontario?


Don’t miss this FREE webinar on Tuesday, March 19. Registration information will be kept confidential and free consultation codes with Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers will be provided upon attendance. We will be live at 5PM to outline details on rights and responsibilities with the matrimonial home in Ontario. This series is one of our many commitments to providing our community with valuable resources to support them in navigating family law matters.


The matrimonial home holds a unique place in family law, particularly in Ontario, where specific rules and regulations govern its treatment during and after divorce. Understanding the rights and responsibilities associated with the matrimonial home is crucial for those considering, researching, or going through a divorce. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with valuable insights into the matrimonial home’s legal aspects in Ontario, helping you make informed decisions during this challenging time. 

1. Definition of a Matrimonial Home

Definition of a Matrimonial Home: In Ontario, a matrimonial home is legally defined as a property where a married couple lived or lives during their marriage. It carries distinct legal implications and protections, setting it apart from other properties. This definition is crucial as it determines which property is subject to specific legal treatment. 

2. Possession Rights

Possession Rights: Both spouses have rights to live in the matrimonial home during and after divorce. These rights are protected by law, ensuring that neither spouse can be evicted from the home without due process. It’s essential to understand these rights to avoid disputes and ensure a fair living arrangement. 

3. Selling the Home

Selling the Home: The process of selling the matrimonial home involves specific conditions and legal procedures. Understanding the requirements for selling the home, such as obtaining spousal consent or court orders, is essential. Typically, both spouses must agree to sell the home, or a court order may be required if there is a disagreement. 

4. Exclusive Possession Orders

Exclusive Possession Orders: In certain situations, one spouse may seek exclusive possession of the matrimonial home. This order allows one spouse to live in the home while the other relocates. These orders are typically granted when there is a significant conflict or safety concerns, and they provide a legal framework for resolving occupancy disputes. 

5. Impact on Children

Impact on Children: Decisions regarding the matrimonial home must consider the best interests of any children involved. Courts prioritize providing a stable living environment for children, which can influence possession and occupancy rights. Ensuring a stable and familiar living arrangement for children is a significant consideration in matrimonial home matters. 

6. Mortgage and Debts

Mortgage and Debts: Handling ongoing financial obligations related to the matrimonial home, such as the mortgage and other debts, is essential. Understanding how these obligations are shared or allocated is crucial to avoid financial disputes. Both spouses may have shared financial responsibilities for the home even after separation. 

7. Occupancy and Use

Occupancy and Use: Rules and rights surrounding the use of the home post-separation can be complex. Understanding occupancy and use rights and responsibilities is vital for both spouses. It may involve negotiations or court decisions to establish clear guidelines for home usage. 

8. Protecting Your Interest

Protecting Your Interest: There are legal steps you can take to safeguard your rights in the matrimonial home. Consulting with a family lawyer to understand your options and protect your interests is advisable. This may include exploring legal remedies, such as exclusive possession orders or agreements, to secure your rights in the home. 

9. Alternative Accommodations

Alternative Accommodations: Planning for where to live post-divorce is a critical consideration. Whether you decide to buy a new home, rent, or explore other housing options, careful planning is essential. This planning ensures a smooth transition to a new living arrangement after the division of the matrimonial home. 

10. Legal Support

Legal Support: Finding and working with a lawyer who specializes in matrimonial home issues is crucial. A knowledgeable attorney can guide you through the legal intricacies, protect your rights, and ensure a fair resolution regarding the matrimonial home. Legal support is invaluable in navigating the complexities of matrimonial home matters. 


The matrimonial home plays a central role in divorce proceedings in Ontario. Understanding its legal definition, possession rights, the process of selling the home, and exclusive possession orders is essential. Additionally, considering the impact on children, managing financial obligations, and safeguarding your interests are critical aspects of matrimonial home matters. Remember that you don’t have to navigate these complex legal issues alone; there are legal professionals and resources available to help you protect your rights and make informed decisions regarding the matrimonial home. With the right knowledge and support, you can face these challenges with confidence and ensure a fair resolution during divorce. 

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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the Founder & Senior Partner of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers.