Ontario permits the designation of homes as “matrimonial homes” under the Family Law Act.
Naturally, if both spouses own the property, then the designation is unnecessary. They are both on title, and on the public record.
There are special rights afforded the non-titled spouse in respect to a matrimonial home. Basically, that means a place where the both live, even for limited periods of time.
The special rights are essentially “possessory” in nature, but nevertheless, the equity in the properties can be the subject of litigation and dispute in the case of separation.
It’s important to understand the reasons for designation and joint designation.
Assume Harry and Wilma are getting along well and have 4 properties all in Harry’s name.
One is a commercial property. It’s not a matrimonial home.
There is a house in the city, a cottage and a ski chalet. All three are matrimonial homes. No designation is required at all. But, that’s just between the spouses. The public doesn’t know and can’t tell.
Harry and Wilma, now don’t get along and Harry is planning to sell all the properties, keep all the money himself and move out of the country.
Single Party Designation
Wilma should file designations in respect to the cottage and the ski chalet. No one is there fulltime, so they could easily be sold by Harry without her knowledge and consent.
The house in the city, is more difficult to sell “out from under her” because she lives there. The public if viewing the property is likely to notice her occupation. Nevertheless, a designation could be registered with respect to that house too. Depending upon how cavalier Harry might be, this precaution might be wise.
Registration of the designation protects Wilma.
When there is a joint designation, there is an agreement in place. By designating the house and the cottage, the ski chalet is freed up for sale.
Here, there would be an agreement struck between Harry and Wilma concerning the disposition of the proceeds.
Registration of a joint designation is intended to permit the sale of one of the properties.
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker