Can a Cottage be a "Matrimonial Home"?

May 20, 2022
Ron Shulman

Article written by Ron Shulman

Pack your bags and dust off those Muskoka chairs because cottage season is finally here! As we speak, people are eagerly prepping for the Victoria Day long weekend, no doubt ready for three days of lounging by the lake. But while planning for a cottage retreat may be as simple as tossing bug spray in a bag, this time of year comes with a lot of complicated questions. Specifically, how are vacation properties handled during a divorce?

We wish we could give you an easy answer. However, splitting a cottage during a divorce depends on whether it can be defined as a matrimonial home.

Defining the Matrimonial Home

Defining your matrimonial home is important because it is subject to special treatment under the Ontario Family Law Act. No matter whose name is on the title, both spouses have equal right to this home. This means its full value must be equally shared upon divorce. Defining your matrimonial home is usually simple. However, it gets more complex when a family owns more than one residence. So, does your cottage, mobile home, or vacation home fall under the Act's special rules?

There are no universal rules. To give yourself a better idea of whether your cottage is a matrimonial home, you can ask these two questions. First, did you both (as a couple) ordinarily use the cottage? Second, did you use it as a family home?

We understand that cottages are more than just seasonal getaways. Filled with years of memories, these vacation homes hold a special place in our hearts. At Shulman & Partners LLP we can assess your situation and advise on your home away from home. We are here to help. Please feel free to reach out.