The period of separation and divorce is a very difficult time for families, and it can be made harder when a dispute over the sale of the matrimonial home arises. There are times when one spouse may wish to keep the home, possibly for the children's sake, while the other spouse wishes to put the home up for sale. Can a spouse force you to sell the home you live in? In short, the answer is yes.
Equal Rights to the Property
For most couples, it is understood that each person has equal rights to the property they reside in. What might not be so clear is, this is also true even if only one spouse has their name on the title. You might believe that just because your name is on the deed and not your spouse, you have the right to hold on to the property in the event of a divorce; this isn't true.
Each partner still has equal rights to the property and the proceeds of the sale of the property, even if only one of you holds the title.
If your spouse wants to sell your home and you are opposed to it, you should know they have the right to petition the courts for something called exclusive possession. This means that the spouse who wishes to place the house up for sale may appeal to the courts to retain sole possession of the house under the Family Law Act. The family law act lays out your legal rights in family law matters across Canada. The provinces may differ in their laws in some ways but mostly follow the same regulations.
This exclusive possession allows you to place your house up for sale without needing your spouse's written permission or signature on the listing page. It is possible to get an exclusive possession order even if you are not the one whose name is on the deed. An exclusive possession order will also dictate who will live in the home and have the possessions. This does not mean the other spouse doesn't still retain ownership of the house however. The spouse who lives in the home must comply with the court order, and allow the real estate agent to bring potential home buyers into the home for viewings.
Buy Out Your Spouse
A potential option you have is to buy out your spouse in order to retain the home. This could require refinancing of your mortgage and will only work if you can afford the buyout. You could use a co-signer who has good credit to sign onto your mortgage with you.
For more information, contact a local family lawyer, such as Tweyman Martin & Assoc.
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