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What is a "matrimonial home" in property division law?

Many people understand the "matrimonial home" as a house inhabited by a couple. However, depending on the area where a couple lives, family law may have a different take on such property. Divorcing couples in British Columbia should know how family law regards the matrimonial home in order to properly address it in property division.

A matrimonial home does not have to be just one house. In fact, all property that could be considered a family residence can be considered a matrimonial home. This can include vacation properties, extra condominiums, or even a boat with sleeping and eating quarters. However, in order for these properties to be considered a matrimonial home in the case of property division, the property must be "ordinarily occupied." 

Larger real estate can sometimes be divided in terms of what is and is not considered a matrimonial home. For example, for a couple that lives on a rural property in British Columbia, the real estate that is not part of regular living for the family may be considered differently than the house itself. A judge will often have the final say in distinguishing which parts of a property are defined as a matrimonial home in a property division case.

Legal rights to real estate and other things owned by one or both parties can be highly contentious during divorce or property division. Some definitions, such as what constitutes a matrimonial home, can be subject to disagreement and require courts to step in. Those seeking council during these disputes or who need clarification during any part of a divorce can contact a British Columbia lawyer for support.

Source: Financial Post, "Why the 'matrimonial home' is a hot topic when it comes to family law", Laurie H. Pawlitza, Sept. 5, 2017

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