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What happens if my spouse removes items from the matrimonial home?

One of the questions I am frequently asked by clients when discussing their Calgary divorce with them is: What happens if my spouse removes items from the matrimonial home?

The answer to that question can be found in section 33 of the Matrimonial Property Act. Section 33 states:

33 (1) If proceedings have been commenced under this Act, a spouse who knows or has reason to believe that the proceedings have been commenced shall not

(a) dispose of or encumber any household goods, or

(b) except in an emergency, remove from the matrimonial home any

household goods that are household appliances or household effects or that

form part of the household furnishings of that matrimonial home,

without an order of the Court or the consent of the other spouse.

(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of not more than $1000.

So, as can be seen, section 33 provides that, once proceedings have been commenced, a spouse that removes any items referred to in subsection (1)(b) is committing an offence, unless they can justify doing so by virtue of it being an emergency.

Are people prosecuted if they do so? Not normally but, if they are represented by a lawyer and their lawyer learns that they are removing property, their lawyer will likely advise them to return any such property immediately.

Clearly, the parties may agree to one party removing items from the matrimonial home, but parties should not assume that they are entitled to do so as a matter of course.

If you have any questions regarding the above, or if you would like to discuss any issues regarding separation, divorce, division of property, spousal support, custody and access, child support, or guardianship and parenting, please either call me on 403-538-2105, or email me using this link.

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