Co-Ownership of Property and Your Spouse

Co-Ownership of Property and Your Spouse

“What part of the house counts as “ours” versus “theirs””?

“Will we all be eating dinner together every night”?

“Who’s going to clean the bathrooms?”.

These are just a handful of questions that you will need to answer if you are considering co-buying a property.

The situation becomes even more complicated if you co-buy a property with your spouse.  In these circumstances, a co-ownership agreement must be put in place to comprehensively address the relationships of the parties.  In addition to the co-ownership agreement, a marriage contract – a domestic agreement that deals with the treatment of assets not only during the marriage, but also in the event of marriage breakdown – is often recommended.

A co-ownership agreement will breakdown important elements between co-owners, such as: exit strategies; rules and regulations of the home; and, monthly financial obligations of all parties. A marriage contract, on the other hand, will address spouse-specific issues, such as: equalization of your share of the property on separation; and, trust provisions between you and your spouse in the event that one spouse will not be placed on title of the property.

A marriage contract can also address what would happen with your share of the property in the event that you and your spouse have children. For instance, the agreement might include a clause that triggers the sale of your share of the property on the birth of a child; or, provide terms for one spouse to pay the mortgage while the other is on maternity leave.  Certain terms of a marriage contract may also impact the co-ownership situation; for example, terms concerning your attendance at meetings in a co-owned house can be modified within a marriage contract to include for your spouse attending a house meeting as your proxy

Therefore, a co-ownership agreement, on its own, may not suffice to address elements that deal with spousal rights and responsibilities in a co-ownership situation. Regardless, keep in mind that your specific circumstances will dictate what approach is best: sometimes a separate marriage contact is a must; in other instances, it may be possible to cover certain elements related to the marriage within the co-ownership agreement, and a separate marriage contract may not be necessary.

The key take-away is this: every situation is different.

Our lawyers at AURA LLP specialize in Co-Ownership agreements. Contact us to get an assessment of your circumstances.


Ryan Martin
Ryan Martin is a founding partner of Aura LLP, specialising in real estate and commercial law. Ryan is one of Ontario's leading lawyers and thought-leaders in co-ownership of residential and commercial real estate.
Real Estate Co-Ownership ontarioRemote & Virtual Real Estate Closing