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Getting Exclusive Possession of Your Matrimonial Home

You’ve seen it on TV sit-coms. Separated or divorced couples living together. 

How Does That Work Anyway?

Your matrimonial home is the place you shared during happier times. You both have a right to live there. What’s yours is hers and vice versa. Even if the title is in your name.

You Say It’s Your Home?

You say you bought the home before you met your spouse. Post-marriage, assets are shared property. You may have legal title. But without exclusive possession, your spouse can still live there. In fact, they can apply for exclusive possession and force you out.

Can’t I Just Sell?

Not until property division is settled by the court. Even with exclusive possession, you can’t sell the furniture or other belongings or toss it out. And you can’t mortgage or refinance the home without consent. If you and your spouse disagree on selling and splitting all or some of the profits, Axess Law’s family law lawyers can advise on going to court. 

Or Change the Locks?

Not in Ontario. Under Ontario’s Family Law Act, you’ll need a court order to do so. Until then, your spouse can enter and live in the home. Even when you are separated or divorced. With exclusive possession, you get reasonable notice before they show up.

Isn’t Living Together Risky?

It could be. Emotions may be running high. You could be at risk of verbal or physical abuse. Ontario courts recognize this. Axess Law’s family law lawyers can help with an urgent exclusive possession order. They’re experienced divorce and separation attorneys.

My Kids are Upset – What Now?

No doubt your kids are distressed. Staying in the family home can be comforting. Now is the time, before your spouse gets a new partner, to request exclusive possession. Be assured the best interests of your children matter. Courts hear their views and wishes before deciding. 

What If I Don’t Want to Go to Court?

If you and your spouse are on speaking terms, you could write exclusive possession into a separation agreement. Your spouse moves out. You have your Toronto home to yourself. Remember, getting a divorce can take months or years, so plan ahead. Married couples have six years after separating or two years after divorce to ask the court for equalization payments, your share of joint property.

Who Pays the Bills?

A court order may require you to pay utility bills and property taxes. Your income is considered in deciding. You’ll also need to think about who mows the lawn and makes home repairs. 

What About Common Law Couples?

Ontario’s Family Law Act only applies to married couples. When you live common law, you only divide assets you bought jointly. The family home is yours if you paid for it yourself or owned it beforehand. 

Need Divorce Advice?

Call Axess Law, your flat fee Ontario lawyers. They help you navigate through separation or divorce. Our divorce fees are affordable too. Make an appointment at 1-647-479-0118 or use our online booking form.


It was a pleasure working with Patricia from Axess Law. It was my first time purchasing a home, and was very nervous about every step in the process. I called and emailed Patricia several times with the silliest questions. She answered them all promptly, and provided the best customer service I could ask for. I would recommend Axess Law and particularly Patricia to everyone.

c Cindy Tran

In the past I had to make appointments and waited for days to see a lawyer. Now conveniently this office is at my neighborhood supermarket. I was able to walk in and get my documents signed in less than 30 minutes The staff are courteous and professional. I would recommend anyone. Prompt service.

Joy Stewart Joy Stewart

I am writing this review on behalf of my daughter who completed her first Real Estate condo transaction with AxessLaw. Besides just helping my daughter as a client, they helped her understand every single step involved in the process and the whole process was completed without any problems. I would recommend them to anyone looking for hassle free real estate transaction without thinking twice.

icon Irene Tucker


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