Dower Rights are rights given to a married person in the couple’s “homestead” when only one spouse is named on title. Dower Rights arise when either spouse has resided on the property at any time during the marriage.
Dower Rights are intended to ensure that that the spouse on title does not dispose of the homestead without the consent of the spouse that is not on title. Among other things, it also gives the spouse that is not on title a claim for damages in the event of a disposition without their consent. A “disposition” can include a transfer, lease, sale or mortgage of the property.
The spouse that is not on title must provide their consent and acknowledge that they are consenting to the disposition freely and voluntarily, and they must sign such consent apart from the spouse that is on title.
There are a few exceptional situations where the consent is not needed, most commonly when the spouse that is not on title has previously signed a Release of Dower Rights. By signing a Release of Dower Rights, the spouse that is not on title ceases to have any Dower Rights in the property and the property ceases to be a “homestead”. Further, if neither spouse has ever resided on the property during the marriage, then the property is not a “homestead” and Dower Rights do not arise.
In the context of selling a home, generally speaking you will need to deal with Dower Rights when there is only one person on title and that person is married, either by obtaining the consent of the owner’s spouse or by ensuring there is a Release of Dower Rights registered on the title.
At KH/Dunkley Law Group we provide our clients with proper advice regarding Dower Rights. We advise both spouses of all of their rights and ensure the appropriate documents are executed to facilitate a smooth closing to their transactions. We also act for spouses who wish to provide a Release of Dower Rights.
For more information, please feel free to contact our office.