Canada: Blended Families And The Consequences Of Seeking A Court Ordered Sale Of Property

Last Updated: March 6 2019
Article by Peter J. Roberts

Second marriages are common. They frequently occur when one or both individuals already have adult children. Sometimes these melded families work and everyone gets along, or at least are pleasant enough to each other. Occasionally it does not go that well.  In either case, but particularly the latter, difficult legal questions can arise that should to be addressed rather than ignored. An example is the shared ownership of property and what is to happen after one or more of the property owners die. In a blended family context, this can lead to misunderstandings, hardship and ill feelings if matters have not been agreed upon from the outset.

A recent case provides something of a sad example. It ended up in court with a step-daughter seeking the sale of the home in which her deceased father and his second wife had lived. In Whieldon v. Alexander, 2018 BCSC 2119, the court was asked to invoke the provisions of the Partition of Property Act which provides that property owned by two or more people can be ordered sold. The property in question was a modest home in Mission, B.C.  Mr. Alexander purchased it after the death of his first wife. He put title into his and his adult daughter's name as joint tenants, telling her he had done so to "take care" of her after his death. She did not contribute to the purchase or upkeep of the home and never lived there. 

Sometime later, Mr. Alexander met and eventually married his second wife. They lived together in this house. At one point, Mr. Alexander asked his daughter to transfer her interest in the home to his new wife.  She declined to do so. Mr. Alexander then put his second wife on title as a joint tenant to his ½ interest but took no further steps. Several years later he died after a lengthy illness, resulting in his second wife and adult daughter becoming joint owners, as tenants in common, of the home in which the widow now lived alone.

It is fairly clear that the second wife and daughter did not get along, each accusing the other of treating them "unfairly and in contempt". Perhaps because of that, the daughter commenced a legal proceeding seeking to sell the home and get ½ the proceeds. The widow argued she could not afford to live elsewhere and that the home should not be sold given the daughter's poor conduct toward her and her father, who she never visited during his illness. In the course of ruling that the home was to be sold, the court made a number of interesting points that underscore the legal rights and obligations in cases like this. 

To begin, anyone owning an interest in land can seek to have the court order that it be sold. If you own an interest equivalent to 50% or more, then the legislation mandates that the property must be sold unless the court is persuaded there is "good reason to the contrary". This is an inquiry made by the court "having regard to the evidence adduced". It is not a question that requires any one party to discharge an onus of proof to establish there is or is not "good reason" to sell.

Hardship caused by a sale can amount to "good reason" not to sell, but generally only where there are existing legal, and perhaps moral, obligations between the joint property owners. For example, courts have denied a sale where it would see a single mother and her children lose their home. A father's legal obligation to provide for his family amounts to "good reason" not to sell. 

However, in this particular case, there were no legal or moral obligations between the daughter and her step-mother. The daughter was not legally or morally obliged to support or to house her step-mother. The court also noted that the daughter was not required by law to be nice, stating:

The law does not require the petitioner to speak to the respondent directly, to acknowledge her on social occasions, or to forego benefiting from the petitioner's interest in the Property for the sake of the respondent.

The court was unable and unwilling to resolve the evidentiary conflict over which of the two had behaved most poorly to the other over the years. The court found this conflict to be irrelevant.  Instead, the court noted that the deceased had not taken any steps in his lifetime to make other arrangements concerning the home. Based on that, he must be taken to have intended to gift a ½ interest in the home to his daughter. The daughter's 50% interest entitled her in the first instance to an order for sale. The court could not find "good reason" not to sell the property.

If you are a joint property owner, the take away is that you should address with your co-owners what is to occur on the death of any one of you rather than leave it for the courts to sort out later. If the courts do so, this will likely lead to greater costs, irreparably damaged relationships and unwanted and regrettable consequences to at least some of the parties. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions