Since July 1st, 1989, a law instituting the Family Patrimony entered into force in order to promote the financial equality between married couples and between civil union couples since 2002

Essentially, this law created the Family Patrimony which is comprised of   assets owned by either of both of the parties and of which the value is partitioned upon the termination of their marriage or civil union.  Regardless of the date of the marriage and matrimonial regime chosen by the married couple or couple in a civil union, they are subject to the rules of family Patrimony. Married couples were able to renounce to being subject to the rules of the family patrimony via the signature of a notarial document signed and registered at the Office of the Land Register by January 1st, 1991.

The assets forming part of the Family Patrimony are

  • The Family Residence
  • The Secondary Residence
  • Furnishings garnishing the Family Residence
  • Furnishings garnishing the Secondary Residence
  • Motor vehicles used by the family
  • RRSP’s accumulated during the course of the marriage or civil union
  • Insurable earnings registered by each party with the Quebec Pension Plan accumulated during the course of the marriage or civil union
  • Private pension plans of the parties accumulated during the  course of the marriage

With regards to partition of the value of the Family Patrimony, it is the net value of the abovementioned assets that is shared between the parties (after deduction of debts for the acquisition, renovation and maintenance of same).

Once the net value has been established, there may be cause for further deductions such as the deduction of the net value of a property previously owned by one of the spouses or an inheritance which was then incorporated into the Family Patrimony. Additionally, there is a deduction of the increase in value of the contribution made by the spouse of property previously owned.

In addition to the above scenarios for the partition of the Family Patrimony and depending on the circumstances of the case, the court may also award certain property to one of the parties as payment towards their share of the Family Patrimony or order the spouse who must pay the other for their share of the Family Patrimony to make such payments over a period of time not exceeding 10 years.

In the event that all or some of the property forming part of the Family Patrimony was alienated or misappropriated in the year preceding the divorce or separation and was not replaced, article 421 of the Civil Code of Quebec (CCQ) states that a compensatory payment may be awarded to the spouse who cannot benefit fully from the partition of the Family Patrimony. Article 422 of the CCQ further states that, exceptionally, the court can order that there be no partition of the insurable earnings registered with the Quebec Pension Plan or similar plans as it would result in an injustice given the short duration of the marriage or civil union, the dilapidation of certain property or the bad faith of the other party.

The Family Patrimony is an essential component of our Family Law structure. For any additional clarifications and information regarding same, please do not hesitate to communicate with us.

Ofelia Lamanna, attorney

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