Matrimonial Real Property on Reserves
In collaboration with First Nation people, communities and groups, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) developed legislation to address a long-standing and unacceptable legislative gap. The legislation called Bill S-2, Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act received Royal Assent on June 19, 2013.
In Canada, matrimonial real property (MRP) generally refers to the immoveable assets owned by one or both spouses, such as a house and the land on which it sits. In 1986, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed in Derrickson v. Derrickson that when a conjugal relationship breaks down, courts cannot apply provincial or territorial family law to deal with the family home or other real property on reserves held by one or both spouses or partners. This is because reserve lands fall under federal jurisdiction.
Under the legislation, First Nations can either choose to follow the federal rules or they can choose to enact their own laws related to matrimonial real property rights and interests — laws they can design to meet their particular needs and respect their particular customs.
Once the Act comes into force, on a date to be set by Order in Council, which has not yet been determined, First Nations will be able to enact their own matrimonial real property laws, should they choose to do so.
A 12-month transition period was added to the Act which provides time for First Nations to enact their own laws before the federal provisional rules take effect. However, First Nations are not limited to the 12-month transition period and may enact their community-specific laws at any time once the Act comes into force.
- Legislation: Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
- Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's Public Awareness Campaign
- Centre of Excellence for Matrimonial Real Property
- Training and Education for Front-line Providers
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Lands Modernization Directorate
Les Terrasses de la Chaudière
12th floor, room 1230
10 Wellington Street
Gatineau (Hull) QC K1A 0H4
Tel.: (toll-free) 1-800-567-9604
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