It is a common misconception that the matrimonial home is jointly owned regardless of how title is registered. Another misconception is that you can have only one matrimonial home.
A matrimonial home is defined as:
“Every property in which a person has an interest and that is or, if the spouses have separated, was at the time of separation ordinarily occupied by the person and his or her spouse as their family residence is their matrimonial home.”
You can have multiple matrimonial homes. Matrimonial homes can include an island cottage used only in summer, a ski chalet used only in winter, and/or a time-share unit.
This is contrary to the Income Tax Act that provides you can have only one principal residence for capital gains purposes.
A principal residence and a matrimonial home are not necessarily the same thing.
The normal rule is that you retain what you own. If the house is registered in your name, it belongs to you. However, if your spouse has invested money or time into the home, he or she may have a constructive trust claim with respect to it. This would include paying for it, paying the mortgage and other bills, paying for renovations, and so on. It can also mean the physical labour of doing renovations or other work on the property.
In some cases, if you look after the household and your partner’s children while your partner works to pay off the mortgage, you may also have a constructive trust interest in the house commensurate with your contribution. A constructive trust interest may entitle you to a payment of money or a percentage interest in the home of usually 50 percent or less.