Anthony Layton MBA, CIM

Chairman & CEO, Portfolio Manager

Peter Guay MBA, CFA

Portfolio Manager
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De facto unions and how they affect your finances

February 6, 2018 - 2 comments

Let’s talk about relationships. Don’t worry, this isn’t turning into a ‘Dear Debbie’ series... In this three-part series, I want to discuss the different types of officially recognized relationships in Quebec and how they can affect your finances.

In Quebec, there are three main types of relationships: de facto unions (or common-law), and the marital regimes of partnership of acquests and separation as to property. There are also civil unions but they are beyond the scope of these videos.

So, what does it mean to be common law in Quebec? Across the Quebec civil code, the definition actually varies, but generally, it applies when two people, of the same sex or opposite sexes, live together without being in a marriage and present themselves publicly as a couple, for at least a year. If you have children together, under some instances of the law, the one year rule is dropped. We all know lots of people in common law relationships here. In fact, Quebec has the highest rate of them in Canada: Over 30% of couples in Quebec report being common law, compared to 12% in the rest of the country.

Common law relationships don’t have the same legal protections as marriage. For instance, if one partner dies, the other is considered single in terms of their civil status, so they have no legal claim on the deceased partner’s assets. In case of a breakdown in the relationship, there is no family patrimony to split (I’ll explain Family Patrimony in my next video), and there is no obligation for spousal support. Now if there are children as a result of the relationship, child support must still be paid and it’s determined based on a formula set by the Ministère de la Justice.

You can (and should) put certain protections into place during your relationship through the right legal documents. These include a cohabitation agreement, a separation agreement that covers property separation and spousal support, a will, a joint ownership contract for jointly owned assets, and maybe powers of attorney if appropriate. You can also designate your partner as the beneficiary of your assets such as your life insurance. This is where you want to talk to your financial advisor and a lawyer. 


By: Peter Guay with 2 comments.
  13/02/2018 3:56:47 PM
Peter Guay
Hi Frank, good point, I’ll discuss with my colleagues about doing an Ontario version of these videos too.
  09/02/2018 9:18:04 PM
Frank Kimmerle
With PWL locations in Toronto, Ottawa & Waterloo You may want to extend comments for jurisdictions beyond Quebec.

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