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We're not married. Who gets to stay in our home if we separate?

We're not married. Who gets to stay in our home if we separate?


Clear language definitions to common legal terms. 

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July, 2017

The rules about who can stay in your home depend on whether you're married or in a common-law relationship.

Generally, only married couples have special rights to stay in their matrimonial home.

Legal owner or tenant

Since common-law couples cannot have a matrimonial home, you only have the right to stay in your home if you're one of the:

  • legal owners on the title of the home or,
  • legal tenants

This right can be changed by a court order or an agreement.

If you and your partner both own the home, you can agree to either:

  • one of you buying the other’s share in the home
  • sell the home and share the money from the sale

If you can't agree, you can ask a court to sell the home.

Not a legal owner or tenant

Most of the time, you can be forced to leave if you're not a legal owner or tenant of the home. The legal owner or tenant can lock you out, sell, or mortgage the home at any time.

If you want to stay, you need:

It may also be possible to stay in the home if you make a claim for ownership of the home based on unfairness, such as “unjust enrichment”. This means that it would be unfair to allow your partner to leave the relationship without sharing their property. But, this type of claim can be very hard to prove.    

Special rules for homes on a First Nations reserve

There are different rules that apply to a home that is located on a First Nation reserve.

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