Family law reform | Quebec wants to create “parental union” for de facto spouses with children

(Quebec) If you are in a common-law relationship with your common-law spouse and you plan to have a child in the coming years, or to adopt, Quebec plans to modify the Civil Code to adapt family law to your reality by creating a new “parental union” regime.

The Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barrette, tabled Bill 56 on Wednesday, which establishes a new “parental union” regime, in what constitutes the highly anticipated second part of the reform of family law on marital issues.

In his bill, the minister “aims to establish parental union for de facto spouses who are the parents of the same child born or adopted after the entry into force of this law,” he explains. in its preamble.

This new regime provides “that the formation of the parental union entails the constitution of parental union assets made up of certain assets of the spouses, including the family residence”, and establishes “the rules applicable to the sharing of this assets in the case where the union ends.

Concerning the main residence, the bill essentially provides “to make the rules for the protection and allocation of family residence provided for married or civilly united spouses applicable to spouses who are in a parental union”, which provides new protections to de facto spouses in parental union in the event of separation, we note.

On the other hand, “the bill provides that the spouses may, by mutual agreement, modify the composition of the parental union assets or completely exempt themselves from its application,” the bill also specifies.

Compensating for economic impoverishment

The reform tabled by Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette on Wednesday also provides for granting “spouses, after the end of the parental union, the right to make a request for compensatory benefits to the court if they believe they have become impoverished after having contributed to the enrichment of the assets of the other spouse.”

“In matters of inheritance, the bill proposes in particular to modify the rules of legal devolution to allow the spouse who was in a parental union to inherit from their deceased spouse when the latter had been living together for more than a year at the time of the death,” we add.

Concerning child support, Bill 56 provides that the Administrative Service for the Adjustment of Child Support, administered by the Legal Services Commission, has the mandate “to offer parents a service for calculating child support children to help them determine, without court intervention, the amount of child support.”

“The bill proposes to impose on the judge the obligation to award damages when there is judicial violence. It also provides that the court must take into account the history of the proceedings between the parties, the impact of the repetitive and contentious nature on the ex-spouse and on the child, as well as the balance of forces involved, particularly due to the existence of family violence, including domestic violence,” it is written.

Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette will hold a press briefing Wednesday morning to explain the details of his bill.

A reform demanded for years

By tabling this new family law reform, Quebec is creating a new “parental union” regime in Quebec, the only province where common-law couples with children are more numerous than married couples.

This new pivotal stage in the reform of family law, which has not been revised in depth since 1980, was initiated after the famous judgment Eric c. Lola of the Supreme Court more than 10 years ago. It aims to modernize the Civil Code on conjugality issues, in the context where de facto spouses currently have no rights or obligations in Quebec.

At the time, Lola challenged the Quebec regime for common-law spouses. She alleged that it was discriminatory, compared to the provisions provided for married people. In an extremely close judgment of five judges against four, the highest court in the country finally ruled that the provisions of the Civil Code were not unconstitutional, but still invited the Quebec legislator to correct the situation.


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