Protecting Your Family Home

Thinkstock Images / Stockbyte / Thinkstock

A person thinking about filing for divorce can take some steps to protect the family home. This is especially important if the person who doesn't own the home is worried the other spouse might sell it. 

The family home is really a "family residence".

The law does not use the term "family home." Instead, it refers to the "family residence" when describing this place:

  • the place the spouses choose as their main residence
  • where the family members usually live
  • where the family members carry on their main activities

A couple can have only one family residence. For example, the family residence can be one of these places:

  • the house one of the spouses owns or rents
  • the apartment both spouses rent
  • the condo one of the spouses owns or rents

The couple's other homes are secondary residences.

Example

Emily and Ian live in a house, but they also own a cottage in the Laurentians. They go to the cottage every weekend, and they spend their vacations there too. The house is their family residence, and the cottage is their secondary residence.

How can you protect the family home?

The family home is rented and only one of the spouses signed the lease:

One of the spouses can give the landlord a written notice that the apartment is the family residence. The notice can also be given in the lease.

If the landlord has been notified that the apartment is the family residence, the spouse whose name is on the lease can't do any of these things without the agreement of the other spouse:

When both spouses signed the lease, both must usually agree to sublet, assign or end the lease.

One of the spouses owns the family home:

One of the spouses can file a declaration of family residence against the home in Quebec's land register.

Services Québec can help you with these steps:

  • provide a declaration of family residence form free of charge
  • suggest other ways of making a declaration of family residence
  • explain the steps for registering the declaration
  • let you know the cost of registering the declaration

The declaration of family residence protects the spouse who does not own the property. If a declaration of family residence has been filed, the spouse who owns the family residence can't do any of these things without the other spouse's consent:

  • sell or give the family residence to anyone
  • rent it
  • give certain rights in the property to someone else, such as mortgaging the house to the bank, if the building housing the family residence has four units or less

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.