Real Estate and Family Law Processes

Real Estate and Family Law Processes

Our legal firm is experienced in many aspects of the real estate process when purchasing, selling or refinancing a home or building, and we understand the importance of legal processes when it comes to family law matters. Call our lawyers today if you have any questions about our practice or if you would like to schedule a free consultation to go over your legal needs.



What does a lawyer do?

When do I get the keys?

When do I get the money?


What does the lawyer do?

In a purchase transaction, working in conjunction with your real estate agent, your lawyer will help you negotiate the Agreement of Purchase and Sale. Typical conditions that are inserted to protect buyers are those relating to financing, building inspection, sale of existing home, and if the property is a condominium, the receipt, and approval of the condominium status certificate.

  • Your lawyer will ensure that any other specific concerns are addressed in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, because if it’s not in writing, an agreement or an understanding is not legally enforceable (in most circumstances).
  • Once the conditions are met, your lawyer will then search the title to ensure that there are no liens, encumbrances (such as existing mortgages) or other title problems.
  • The lawyer “quarterbacks” the transaction for you and ensures that your closing, and all of the closing documentation are prepared and delivered in a timely fashion.
  • You will meet with your lawyer a day or two before closing (or earlier if circumstances warrant) to review and witness you signing all of the closing documents.
  • The actual registration of the deed (called a “Transfer”) and the mortgage (called a “Charge”) is done electronically
    • Your lawyer is a licensed user of the Ontario Teraview Electronic Registration System and the information concerning the legal title transfer is prepared by your lawyer and registered electronically on your behalf.
  • On the day of closing, your lawyer will send the closing proceeds to the seller’s lawyer and, in return, receive the keys.
  • Once the deliveries have been received by both the seller’s lawyer and the buyer’s lawyer, they will then access the electronic database, exchange passwords, and allow the Transfer (and Charge if applicable) to be registered by the buyer’s lawyer. The actual registration is almost instantaneous, and once done, allows the buyer’s lawyer to release the keys to the buyer.
  • The one remaining thing for the buyer to do is to come back into the lawyer’s office to pick up the keys. For timing of picking up your keys, please see “When Do I Get the Keys”.


As a vendor, your lawyer will assist you in the preparation of the agreement. Your lawyer prepares the Statement of Adjustments and the closing documentation and makes arrangements to pay out all of the existing debts secured against the property. The closing adjustments include all prepaid items such as property taxes, condominium fees or fuel oil.

  • Your lawyer closes the transaction for you (this is now done electronically – for further information about the process, please see the “Purchases” section) and ensures that all obligations are paid out of the closing proceeds (such things as the real estate commission, the balance of any outstanding mortgages or secured lines of credit).
  • They then deliver to you, or deposit into your bank account, the net proceeds.


  • For mortgage refinancing, the lawyer will:
    • Search title to review previous Mortgages registered
    • Meet all the obligations set out by the financial institution in the Mortgage Commitment, prepare the mortgage
    • Receive the proceeds
    • Register the mortgage (called a “Charge”) electronically
    • Pay all necessary obligations
    • Deliver, or deposit into your bank account, the net proceeds
  • For a construction mortgage, there will be several “draws” and a sub-search of title is required at each stage.

When do I get the keys?

Although registration is now electronic and the process itself is virtually instantaneous, (in most areas - there are exceptions, for example the former counties of Grenville, Dundas, Glengarry, and Leeds) the actual time it takes to close is dependent upon several factors.


Typical timing for picking up keys at your lawyer’s office is mid-afternoon. It could be as late as 5:00 PM (this is the time that the electronic system shuts down), or, if things go very well, as early as noon. But don’t count on your keys to schedule your movers, or to have your appliances delivered or your carpets cleaned until later in the day.

  • First, monies have to be received from the financial institution you are dealing with and banking has to be done on the day of closing.
  • Then the certified monies have to be sent by courier to the other law firm.
  • Finally both lawyers have to be available to access their computers to “close” the transaction.

When do I get the money?

As with keys, the money is only released once the transaction has been registered. The usual time to pick up your cheque is mid-to-late afternoon on the day of closing. Again, this depends on a number of factors so don’t count on the proceeds until 5:00 PM.


How does division of property work?

Generally, under the laws of the Province of Ontario, when parties separate they have a right to an equal share of the wealth they each acquired during the marriage. This process is called the equalization of net family property.

  • The determination of the net family properties to be equalized is a process that requires the careful determination of values for the assets and debts of each party at the date of the marriage of the parties, and at the date of separation.
  • In some unusual situations, the court may make an adjustment to the final property calculation to take into account extraordinary circumstances that existed during the marriage.

What happens when there is a material change regarding child custody?

Matters of child custody, access, and child support can be changed when there has been a material change in the circumstances of the parties or the child. Not every change is a material change, but if it is material, (meaning significant) then a change can be made, based upon the new circumstances as they exist.

  • A court can always vary a court order or agreement regarding child matters if there has been a material change, even if the parties intended that there be no changes permitted.
  • Spousal support orders or agreements may also be changed if there has been a material change of circumstances and the parties clearly intended that changes be possible.
  • Occasionally a court will even vary an agreement or order where the parties clearly stated that there was to be no change, if the court believes that it in the circumstances it would be very unfair not to change it.

Will I have to go to court?

There are often options other than the court for the resolution of conflict. Some matters can be negotiated by lawyers to a successful conclusion without the use of court at all. Sometimes a meeting of the parties with their lawyers can result in an agreement which everyone finds is fair and just. Other matters can be referred to a mediator or arbitrator for the resolution of specific issues in a timely manner. Even after a court action has been commenced, often there are opportunities for the parties to make use of alternative dispute resolution so as to reduce the level of conflict and move to a resolution in which the parties have participated in as well.