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What is the status of de-facto couples in Quebec?

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Family law

Common Law Partnerships in Quebec

In Quebec, there is no legal recognition of common law partnerships, unlike the other provinces of Canada, no matter the length of time that you are together. As a de facto spouse, you have no obligation or rights towards your partner. This essentially means that de facto couples do not benefit from the same protections as married couples.

The Supreme Court decision in Eric vs. Lola has reconfirmed that de facto couples are not required to support each other financially at the time of their separation. Therefore, de facto couples cannot make any request to a court in order to request financial aid from their partner, unless they have a written agreement between them. In a written contract, the partners can set out the rights and obligations that they want governing them during their union and at the time of separation. Some examples of what can be included in a written agreement between de facto couples are:

- The creation of a family patrimony;
- How the property will be divided in the event of a separation;
- How any debts contracted during the union will be repaid following the separation; and
- The financial aid towards each other in case of a separation.

As we have mentioned above, de facto couples who are not co-owners of the family home will not be able to benefit from the protection that is given to married couples or couples that they have entered into a Civil Union.

De facto couples who are co-owners of their family home are protected by the general rules of co-ownership, and in the event that there is no agreement regarding the partition of the property, the parties will have to address themselves to the Court in order for the Court to force the sale of the house and/or to decide on the amount for which the house can be sold.

It is therefore important, if you are living in a de-facto relationship, to have a written agreement between the partners to ensure your protection.

Gianina Fuschini, Attorney at law
Alepin, Gauthier Avocats Inc.

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