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