Separation and Divorce

Property Included in the "Family Patrimony"


When a couple gets divorced, the value of the family property (officially called the “family patrimony”) is usually divided equally between the spouses. Even if some of the property belongs only to one spouse, it can still be family property. To understand the financial impact of a divorce, each spouse should know what the family patrimony includes.

property included in the family patrimony

The family’s homes and the right to use them


  • house
  • family cottage
  • Florida vacation condo
  • RV
  • some types of boats

Objects furnishing or decorating the family’s homes


  • furniture (sofa, beds, tables, buffet, etc.)
  • major appliances (fridge, stove, washer, etc.)
  • small appliances (coffee maker, toaster, microwave oven, etc.);
  • electronics (television, sound system, etc.)
  • artwork (portraits, paintings, sculptures, etc.).

Family’s motor vehicles


  • car
  • motor home
  • SUV

Money saved in a retirement plan during the marriage


  • RRSP
  • Pension fund

Property not included in the family patrimony

Property not in the family patrimony categories listed above

Sometimes, it is obvious when property is not included in the family patrimony. For example, shares in a company are not a home, an object furnishing or decorating a home, a motor vehicle, or a retirement plan.

Company shares are therefore not part of the family patrimony.

However, other property can be more difficult to classify. For example, a painting hanging above the fireplace is usually considered family property because it decorates your home. However, an art collection on display in a special room in the house is not included in the family patrimony.

Also, a home computer used by all family members is part of the family patrimony because it furnishes the house. However, if your spouse is the only one who uses it, the computer is not included in the family patrimony.

How do you know if property is included in the family patrimony? A legal professional can give you an opinion about your particular case based on criteria judges have developed to decide what the family property includes.


If your father gave you a new car for your birthday, your spouse is not allowed to half of its value, even if your family uses only this car.

Inherited property

If your grandmother left you her buffet, your spouse is not allowed to half of its value, even if it’s in your house and the whole family uses it.