The Matrimonial Home: What All Couples Should Know When Buying, Selling, or Refinancing | Antonio DiMinno


Your matrimonial home is more than just a house – it’s a big deal! It will likely be your largest investment, both financially and emotionally. Ontario’s family laws have important rules about what you can do with it. No matter if you’re happily together or going through a tough time, these rules matter. Whether you want to change, buy, sell, or refinance your home, knowing these rules is key to making it happen smoothly.

In this article, Toronto real estate lawyer, Antonio DiMinno, of DiMinno Rizzi Lawyers, provides an overview of the matrimonial home and what married couples need to know about it.

(Note: any reference to spouses in this article is only to legally married spouses and not common-law partners.)

What Is The Matrimonial Home?

A ‘matrimonial home’ is any property where either spouse has an interest and was or is currently lived in by the couple as their family residence, even if only one person’s name is on the ownership. This definition covers more than one home and doesn’t need both spouses to be owners. For instance, a home registered under one spouse’s name can still be a ‘matrimonial home’ if it fits the rules. This often applies when one spouse owned the home before marriage.

Selling or Refinancing the Matrimonial Home

If you’re married and want to do something big with your shared home, like selling it or getting a loan, both partners need to agree. Not obtaining agreement from the spouse who doesn’t officially have title to the property might make a judge cancel the transfer, sale, or mortgage.

Let’s say one of you wants to put a mortgage on your home to buy another property. If the lender figures out your home is a ‘matrimonial home,’ they’ll want both partners to agree. If your spouse, for whatever reason, refuses to consent to the mortgage on the matrimonial home prior to the closing date, you might not get the money you need, which could lead to legal trouble and losing your down payment.

Matrimonial Home Designation

If your marriage isn’t going well and you are worried that your spouse may encumber the property, either person can officially mark their shared home as a ‘matrimonial home’ in the public land records. This tells potential buyers and lenders that a judge might cancel the deal if both spouses don’t agree. If one spouse worries the other might do something with the home without asking, they can do this. It’s like hitting the pause button on any changes to the home – unless the ‘matrimonial home’ label is removed, either by choice or by court order. This label can’t be used after a divorce, and any label set before a divorce can be removed when the divorce is official.

How an Toronto Real Estate Lawyer Can Help

Before you make any moves with a property that could be a matrimonial home, it’s smart to talk to a real estate lawyer and a family lawyer. If you’re not the official owner but you’re worried your partner might do something with the home without asking, it’s also a good idea to consult a lawyer to protect yourself.


Antonio DiMinno



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Disclaimer: All number figures are approximate only and may be subject to change. Like all material on this website, this is not financial, legal, or tax advice. Contact a professional for your specific situation. 

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