The marriage contract and knowledge of matrimonial regimes in Quebec – It is not mandatory to make it in Quebec. This document is first used to choose a matrimonial regime other than the partnership of acquests regime, which is the legal and default regime in Québec.
Indeed, partnership of acquests has been the default matrimonial regime in Quebec since July 1, 1970. It applies to all spouses married since that date who have not determined a matrimonial regime in a notarized marriage contract.
Under this regime, there are two categories of property: “private property” and “acquests”.
The property owned by each spouse or civil union partner before their union and the property they receive during their union by gift or succession, as well as the other property, rights and benefits provided for by law, are considered to be private property (articles 450 to 458 of the Civil Code of Québec).
All property that is not private property is considered acquests (Articles 449, 459 and 460 of the Civil Code of Québec), and each spouse or civil union partner may administer his or her acquests and private property, provided that he or she obtains the consent of the other spouse to dispose of his or her acquests free of charge (Article 462 C.c.Q.) during his or her lifetime.
When a partnership of acquests is dissolved, each of the spouses or civil union spouses may apply by law (articles 465 to 484 C.C.Q.) for the partition of the acquests. Each spouse may have property of his or her own. The value of each spouse’s own property is not divided at the end of the regime.
The marriage contract and knowledge of matrimonial regimes
Separation of property
Under this matrimonial property regime, there is only “private” property. Each spouse or civil partner administers his property alone and disposes of it according to his will. Spouses who have not fixed their matrimonial regime by notarial contract in separation of property before the celebration of marriage or the celebration of civil union are automatically assigned the regime of the partnership of acquests by the C.c.Q. A marriage contract must therefore be made to be in separation of property after the marriage.
Community of property
This is the old legal regime in Quebec, from before 1970, and it is still possible today to choose this matrimonial regime, but only by notarized contract and to make the necessary changes. People married without it before 1970 continue to be subject to the provisions of community of property, unless the spouses have subsequently changed their matrimonial regime by a marriage contract.
You can conclude a marriage contract before the celebration of your union. However, you can also do so after the union. In this case, your document comes into force when it is signed instead of on the day of your marriage.
The marriage contract also allows the spouses to specify gifts between spouses or to children and to specify certain provisions in the event of death. Since these provisions in the marriage contract can only benefit one of the spouses or children, it is a legal document with less scope than a will in which any person can be named as a beneficiary.
HOW MUCH DOES A MARRIAGE CONTRACT COST IN QUEBEC?
The cost of a marriage contract can vary depending on its complexity and the expertise of the notary. On average, it is prudent to budget between $400 and $1000 for a simple marriage contract. A more complex marriage contract will be charged at the notary’s hourly rate.
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