Can I Sell the House Without My Spouse Knowing?

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While it hasn’t come up often (fortunately), I have had the occasional married client ask me this:  Can he or she legally sell the home that the couple shares, without the other spouse consenting or even knowing about it?   Most often this question arises where the spouses have separated, and where title is in one spouse’s name.

In Ontario, the short answer is “no.”    Under provincial family law both spouses have an equal right to possess the matrimonial home; by extension this gives rise to a clear restriction against one spouse selling or disposing of a matrimonial home without the consent of the other.   

In this context it may also come as a surprise that it does not matter who holds formal legal title to the property – once a home is considered a “matrimonial home”, then it is governed by special rules.  Nor does it matter that both spouses are no longer living together in the home (e.g. where they have separated and one has moved out). 

Finally, it is important to note that – as I have written in the past – a “matrimonial home” is not limited to being a traditional single-family home, but rather in the right circumstances can include a second home such as a condominium, cottage, or a time share property.     The law’s effect on these second-property homes, and whether one spouse can sell without the other’s consent, will depend on the specific facts.

If you own your matrimonial home and want to be clear on what your rights are, give us a call.   Shulman Law Firm is a Toronto-area firm of experienced Family Lawyers who can provide practical advice and effective representation relating to the steps and processes involved in separating and getting divorced in Ontario.   Contact us to set up a free consultation.

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