Separated Spouses and Occupation Rent

Separated Spouses and Occupation Rent

Immediately following separation, spouses often experience a transition period where they remain financially intertwined while working to divide their shared property. During this transition period, it is common for one spouse to continue residing in the family home while the other spouse moves out permanently or until a property agreement is finalized. Consequently, one party continues to benefit from living in the family home while the other party often incurs additional rent and living expenses. In such circumstances, the spouse that is not residing in the family home may seek to file a compensatory claim for occupation rent.

A comprehensive analysis of occupation rent in the family law context is provided in I.M.D. v. R.A.D., 2019 ABQB 963.  In this decision, Honourable Justice Lema conceptualizes a shift from ‘family-dynamic’ ownership to one where the spouses are simply joint-owners who are responsible for sharing the burden of ownership. The party that continues to reside at the family home maintains the “shelter benefits” by having exclusive possession of the shared property. These shelter benefits must then be weighed against the “carrying costs” associated with maintaining the property, including the mortgage payments, property taxes, and utilities.

In circumstances where the spouse receiving the shelter benefits is also responsible for covering the carrying costs of that property, there may not be any claim for occupation rent so long as those costs are equal to the benefit received. However, in circumstances where one spouse moves from the residence but continues to pay for a significant portion of the carrying costs of that property, the paying spouse may be entitled to compensation under a claim for occupation rent.

There is no precise calculation for determining occupation rent. Rather, occupation rent is often a matter of argument requiring detailed disclosure of the relevant carrying costs associated with the family home. Factors that should be considered in the context of occupational rent include the division of the post-separation home equity and any obligations or entitlements relating to spousal/partner support, and/or child support.

Separated parties that seek a better understanding of their entitlements and obligations regarding occupation rent should seek the advice of a family lawyer who can assist parties in calculating their post-separation financial obligations and entitlements.  At Family Central Law Office LLP, you can rely on experienced family lawyers to provide sound legal advice on your legal matters. Please contact us today for a free consultation with one of our family lawyers on your matter by calling our office at 587-392-7970 or emailing, or by completing our short intake form on our website’s consultation page.

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