Steps to Preserve Property in Family Law Disputes
When relationships dissolve, parties often become concerned that their property will be disposed of or encumbered against their wishes. Property division will be addressed and ultimately resolved as separations move forward, but until agreements are finalized, it may be beneficial for spouses to take certain interim measures. The three types of entries often registered against the title of a property with the Land Title Office are:
• A certificate of pending litigation;
• A Land (Spouse Protection) Act entry; and
• A caveat.
While a certificate of pending litigation (“CPL”) does not create rights to the property which the party did not have before, it does provide notice to would-be creditors or buyers that an interest in the property is being claimed. This dissuades the vast majority of creditors or buyers, with the affect that the property is protected from disposition or encumbrance. The CPL is registered against the title of the property and can be filed against property owned by either or both spouses. A CPL may only be registered once the family law proceedings have begun.
If the property is held in the sole name of one spouse, the other spouse may make a Land (Spouse Protection) Act entry against it. Entries may not be made if the property is held in joint tenancy. The entry will prevent the property from being disposed of without consent. Entries can be made before court action has been commenced but must be made within one year of the spouses residing together in the home. The Land (Spouse Protection) Act has specific forms for the entry application and affidavit. Spouses must have been married or have been in a marriage-like relationship of at least two years.
Finally, if it’s not possible to apply for a CPL or Land (Spouse Protection) Act entry, a caveat may be used. A caveat is a temporary measure registered against the title of property owned by the other spouse. Caveats must be applied for through the correct form offered by the Land Title and Survey Authority, and lapse two months after their registration.
Not anyone can apply for the entries listed above; only people who are spouses or parties to the family law case may apply. If you have concerns about your property or family matters, please contact Heath Law LLP to book a consultation.