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Mine ! Yours! Whose ?
On July 1st, 1989, the Civil Code of Quebec was amended to create a "family patrimony" also known as family assets.

The purpose of this new legislation is to favour economic equality between spouses and to put end to the injustice of which the poorer spouse is sometimes the victim in the event of a divorce, separation as to bed and board, or the death of the other spouse, especially when the spouses had chosen the matrimonial regime of separation as to property. The effect of this law is to provide for the partition (i.e. division) of the family assets in the event of the death of one of the spouses, a judgment of separation as to bed and board, or a divorce.

Does the new law apply to you ?

All legally married couples, no matter when the date of their marriage and regardless of their matrimonial regime, are subject to the provisions of this law. As a general rule, spouses are required to divide the family assets between them, whether or not they have signed a marriage contract before a notary, and whether or not they have children. This is the general rule.

What are the so-called family assets or patrimony ?

The law determines which property constitutes the family patrimony, regardless of the legal title of ownership. Thus, the family patrimony includes the following only:

  • the family residences;
  • the furniture and other household effects furnishing and decorating the residences;
  • the motor vehicles used for family purposes;
  • the benefits accrued during the marriage from any pension or retirement plan.

However any such property devolved to either spouse before or during the marriage by way of gift, lagacy or inheritance is excluded from the family patrimony.

What rights do I have during the marriage ?

Until the marriage comes to and end, the rules concerning family assets do not conflict with the right of ownership each spouse has in his own property. Each spouse remains free to dispose of his or her assets, subject to restrictions which have been enacted to protect the family residence (the owner-spouse may not sell or mortgage (hypothecate) it without the consent of the other) and those resulting from the matrimonial regime (for example, a spouse married under the regime of partnetship of acquests may not give any property forming part of his or her acquests without the consent of the other).

In short, the new law does not make the spouses co-owners of the property included in the family patrimony, but rather creates a right to partition the value of such property at the end of the marriage.

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