Does My Spouse Still Have to Share the House He Inherited?

House inherited from family that must be shared between spouses on divorce

The residence (or residences) you lived in on the date of separation is (are) your matrimonial home(s).  Matrimonial homes can cause people a lot of difficulties on separation. If one spouse is an owner of the matrimonial home, he or she MUST include that interest in Net Family Property - even if that interest would otherwise have been excluded as an inheritance.  Unless there is a marriage contract, matrimonial homes are always included in Net Family Property.  Net Family Property is what you divide when you separate.  Listen to this podcast for more on how property is divided in divorce.  How your property may be divided depends on what else you own, but, unless you agree not to apply the property equalization provisions of the Family Law Act, your has to share the value of his interest in the house  with you.  (Other people who are not your spouse do not have to share their interests in the house with you, only married spouses have to share their interests in property under the Family Law Act.)


A common property that people inherit is a family cottage - or they inherit the cottage along with other family members. However, if a husband and wife treated the cottage like a “family home”, then the inheriting spouse’s interest in the cottage has to be shared in a divorce.  Spouses can have more than one matrimonial home.  Not only do spouses have to share a cottage that is a matrimonial home, but both spouse have a right, under the Family Law Act, to continue to use the cottage after separation. To protect a family cottage from being a matrimonial home, speak to a good family law lawyer.


For more about how matrimonial homes are always included in property to be divided, read this page and watch this video:


While matrimonial homes are always shared in a divorce (unless there is a marriage contract), other inheritances are not included in the property that spouses share by value.  However, it can be possible to lose that protected status for an inheritance.  Speak to a family lawyer whenever you inherit anything of significance or importance. 


In any separation or divorce, there are many common mistakes that people make when they do not speak to a lawyer.  You should speak to a lawyer so you know your rights and how the law applies to your situation.  Otherwise, your ex may trick you into taking less than you deserve.  Pick up a copy of the Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law, which is an easy-to-understand book on Ontario Family Law that explains property division, matrimonial homes, child support, alimony and most other family law issues so that you know where you stand.  You can get the paperback from Amazon, or you can immediately download the $9.99 Kindle ebook or iBook for your iPad or iPhone.

The Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law is available on the iBookstore for iPad, iPhone and Mac


If you have any questions or concerns about your property in separation, or if you have any other Family Law questions that you need answers, contact Certified Specialist in Family Law, John Schuman, by calling 416-446-5847, emailing him, or filling out the form below. You can also use the form below to comment on this page.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle


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© John P. Schuman 2014