The notarized marriage contract or the notarized civil union contract is a notarized document by which the future spouses establish, among other things, their matrimonial regime (art 431, ss C.c.Q.).
It happens very often that the spouses marry without a marriage contract. If the spouses do not choose a matrimonial regime before the celebration of their civil marriage, they are subjects by default to the regime of the partnership of acquests. This is the legal regime in Quebec.
The main purpose of a matrimonial regime is to regulate the spouses’ economic relations with each other, and to determine who will own the assets acquired during the marriage.
Very important note: In all cases, marriage or civil union, the family patrimony will apply. This system which was introduced with the advent of the Civil Code of Quebec, results in the formation of a mass of assets that can be shared between spouses, regardless of their matrimonial regime. There are several categories of assets which are found is this mass: (1) main residences, (2) the furniture from these residences, (3) family vehicles and (4) the rights from various pension plans (art. 425, ss C.C.Q).
If the future spouses choose the regime of the partnership of acquests, they will remain owners of the assets which have been acquired before the marriage (their own assets). The assets which have been acquired during the marriage will be owned by the spouse who bought them. They belong to both spouses, in equal parts, but only in case it is impossible to determine their ownership. In case of divorce, or death of one of the spouses, the one who keeps the assets will have to reimburse one part of the value to the other one, as a reward.
For those who choose the regime of separation of assets, they will remain owners of the assets which have been acquired both before and during the marriage. They will also remain responsible for their own debts.
A marriage contract or a civil union contract makes it possible to foresee a donation, a donation due to death or a mutual donation of certain assets or of all the assets in favour of the other spouse; the marriage contract or the civil union contract is also the only legal document in which two people can provide the testamentary dispositions together (the institution of heir).
The marriage contract and the civil union contract – The notary, an essential partner
The contract must be notarized and can be done before or after the celebration of the marriage or of the civil union. The spouses will need to go to a notary and sign the document in his presence. As a professional specialized in family law, the notary will be able to offer accurate and clear explanations on the different matrimonial regimes and to advise you in the most adequate way. The contract will be kept in the notary’s vault and registered at R.D.P.R.M. The notary shall deliver to both parties certified copies of the contract after that. The spouses may modify their contract together at any time just the way they please.
The agreement between common-law partners is a contract which may include all the usual clauses of a marriage contract or of a civil union contract and regulate the economic relations of the spouses to each other. On the other hand, the spouses are not obliged to respect the rules of the family patrimony (they can nevertheless subject themselves voluntarily to respect them) and the agreement will not be registered with R.D.P.R.M. The notary may draw up the agreement according to the will of both parties, and he will keep the original document in his vault and then deliver the copies to both parties. Common-law partners may also, at their discretion, modify the agreement between them anytime.
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