Are you planning to get married? And you are not comfortable with the specific terms of marriage? You are not alone. Many people can get confused about the words and expressions in the vocabulary surrounding marriage.

Marriage, whether civil wedding or religious wedding, is more than just a celebration. First and foremost, it is a solemn and contractual act. The legal documents relating to a wedding include the marriage contract, the marriage certificate, and others legal documents. What are the differences between a marriage contract and a marriage certificate?

First of all, they are completely different documents.

Marriage contract and matrimonial regime

In Quebec, Canada, marriage contracts, also known as “prenuptial agreements” or “prenups”, play a significant role in establishing the legal framework of a conjugal relationship. The Civil Code of Quebec governs these documents.

In Quebec, there are now two predominant types of matrimonial regime: the regime of separation as to property and the regime of partnership of acquests, which is the default regime.

If you marry under the regime of separation as to property, you must have a marriage contract. If you marry under the regime of partnership of acquests, you are not required to have a marriage contract, but you may draw one up if you wish.

A marriage contract can deal with various aspects of the marital relationship, including the division of property, spousal support, and other financial matters. It allows couples to specify how their assets and debts will be divided in the event of divorce, ensuring clarity and fairness in the separation process. It is important that each party fully discloses his or her financial situation and that the contract is reasonable and fair, as the courts can review agreements deemed to be abusive.

A notary for a marriage contract is a must!

To be fully valid, this official document must be notarised.

The notary can also advise you on the usefulness of the marriage contract in your particular situation and provide you with precise answers to questions specific to your situation. The notary can be consulted right from the start, to give a legal opinion and to ensure that the document meets the legal requirements. He or she may also be your civil marriage officiant.

And now, what is a marriage certificate?

In Quebec, obtaining a marriage certificate is a step in legally validating a marriage. The marriage certificate serves as the official marriage document and is essential for various legal and administrative purposes.

The marriage certificate is issued by the Directeur de l’état civil du Québec after the necessary processing time. It is advisable to keep the marriage certificate in a safe place, as it may be needed for various legal and administrative purposes throughout the marriage. It is a document that may be required by various bodies, for example when buying a house, and in other circumstances in your life. It is proof of your civil status.

To Summarise

A marriage contract allows you to determine how your property will be managed during your married life and afterwards. To be legally valid, a marriage contract in Quebec must be signed by both parties before a notary (notarial act in minute).

While the marriage ceremony is a celebration of love, the marriage certificate is the official proof of the union in the eyes of the law.

These two marriage documents are therefore completely different.

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