Family Law Issues in Real Estate


I recently gave a seminar for the Kitchener Waterloo Real Estate Board on Family Law issues in Real Estate with my business partner, Barry Paquette, who is a Certified Specialist by the Law Society of Upper Canada in Family Law.

One of the most misunderstood aspects of family law issues in real estate is “What is a Common Law relationship.” A Common Law Relationship is legally defined as 2 people living together for three (3) years, or a relationship which has a child from it. Many people will refer to themselves as common law without meeting these criteria.

It is important to note that even if the parties meet the legal definition of common law, this does not mean that they have any interest in the other persons property. A legal common law relationship can impose support obligations on each other. However, parties must legally be married, before a party acquires any interest in real property. Thus from an agents point of view in common law circumstances, the consent of the common law partner is never required to list or sell the property. This applies even in the case of the matrimonial home. Only if both parties are on the title – would both have to sign, which would be obvious in any circumstance.

Knowledge is Power, which results in more business!

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at your convenience. We would love to hear from you!

Prepared by Don Travers, Solicitor with Paquette & Travers Professional Corporation

Contact toll free: 1-877-744-2281 Online:

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Family Law Issues in Real Estate: Part 2 of 3


A common problem in Family Law Situations is when the client sells a matrimonial home and plans to use their share of the proceeds to buy another home.  This “Dream Client” can become a nightmare if the agent is not careful.  It is not uncommon for spouses to assume they will receive half (1/2) the equity of the house upon the sale.  It is important for agents to ensure their client has a separation agreement in place, dealing with the proceeds of the sale of the house or at least an irrevocable direction to the lawyer acting on the sale for what is required to complete the new purchase, before the spouse commits to a firm agreement of purchase and sale on a new house.

Spouses can get very vindictive, and on a sale, will often insist the proceeds of the sale be held in trust by their real estate lawyer until all Family Law issues are resolved.  If the proper caution is not taken as mentioned above, the spouse’s purchase can be thwarted and the purchasing spouse be exposed to damages for failure to close.

Always make your client aware of this, and do not let them firm up without clarification of who gets what of the sale proceeds.  Spouses can never count on their spouse continuing goodwill.  Be prepared and ready to advise!

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at your convenience. If you have any suggestions for future topics please let us know.

Prepared by Don Travers, Solicitor with Paquette & Travers

Contact toll free: 1-877-744-2281