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Family Assets Exclusions and Inclusions

First of all, the family patrimony, as provided by article 414 of the Civil Code of Québec (hereinafter C.C.Q.),[1] is constituted as soon as the marriage or civil union is celebrated, without any particular intervention on the part of the spouses. It should therefore be noted that the provisions of the C.C.Q. relating to family patrimony do not apply to de facto spouses. Nonetheless, the latter have the option of contractually submitting to the system of sharing family assets by means of a cohabitation agreement.

The purpose of family wealth

The family patrimony provisions apply to all married and civil union spouses domiciled in Quebec at the time of dissolution or legal separation, regardless of where their marriage was celebrated. The purpose of the family patrimony is to ensure economic equality between the spouses by redistributing the money upon separation.

Family assets

First, according to article 414 C.C.Q., the family patrimony is ” formed of certain property of the spouses without regard to which of them has a right of ownership in such property “. For a property to be part of the family estate, one of the spouses must own it. It is therefore not necessary for both parties to own the same property for it to be included in the family patrimony.

Next, article 415 C.C.Q. provides an exhaustive list of the assets that make up the family patrimony. Consequently, if an item is not specifically mentioned in this article, it simply means that it is not included. According to article 415 al.1 C.c.Q., the following assets make up the family patrimony:

  • Family residences or rights conferring use thereof

It should be noted that family assets are not limited solely to the principal residence, but include all family residences.

  • Furniture that decorates or adorns them and is used for household purposes

Goods that adorn the main or secondary residence are part of the family patrimony if they are used by the family on a day-to-day basis.

  • Motor vehicles used for family travel

As soon as a vehicle is used for family travel, it becomes part of the family estate. This applies even if the vehicle is not exclusively for family use, but is used by one of the spouses, for example, on the way to work.

  • Pension rights accumulated during the marriage

Only pension rights accumulated during the marriage or civil union in a pension plan mentioned in article 415, paragraph 5, of the Civil Code of Quebec are part of the family patrimony:

Earnings registered, during the marriage, in the name of each spouse under the Quebec Pension Plan Act or equivalent programs “:

According to article 415 al.2 C.C.Q. these earnings are an integral part of the family patrimony.

Assets excluded from family assets

Firstly, according to article 415 al.3 C.c.Q., ” if the dissolution of the marriage results from death, the earnings referred to in the second paragraph, as well as the accrued rights under a pension plan governed or established by a law that grants the surviving spouse the right to death benefits “are excluded from family assets.

Secondly, article 415, para. 4 C.C.Q. provides that if property has been acquired by succession or gift, it will be excluded from the family patrimony. It is important to note that assets donated between the spouses during the marriage are not excluded from the estate.

Conclusion

In conclusion, family patrimony, as defined by articles 414 and 415 C.C.Q., is intended to ensure economic equity between spouses upon separation. Married spouses may not derogate from this rule at the time of union, but de facto spouses may voluntarily submit to it. In addition, family assets include residences, furniture, vehicles and pension rights. However, certain assets, such as those acquired by inheritance, are excluded.


[1]Civil Code of Québec, RLRQ, c. CCQ-1991, (hereinafter “C.c.Q.”).