A civil union is a type of legal relationship between couples in Quebec. While almost identical to a marriage in terms of its rights and obligations, a civil union is more restrictive as to your rights outside of Quebec. In fact, the Quebec civil union might not even be recognised outside of Quebec. Therefore, you should check with a lawyer about the consequences of moving before going to another province.
While anyone can have a civil union, it was originally created to allow same-sex couples to officially promise to live together and respect their rights and obligations (please note that since 2005 same-sex marriages are recognised in Quebec, so same-sex couples are not restricted to get civil unions as they can get married).
As mentioned, the rights and obligations are the same as under a marriage WHEN THE COUPLE IS WITHIN QUEBEC. Always consult with a lawyer to help and info to see how the law changes regarding your union if you decide to move provinces:
Men and women are considered to be EQUAL. Sect 28 of the Canadian Charter and preamble of the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Everyone has the fundamental freedom of THOUGHT, BELIEF, OPINION and EXPRESSION. Sect 2(b) of the Canadian Charter.
The Civil Code of Quebec (CCQ) establishes that both spouses have the same RIGHTS and OBLIGATIONS which include:
- RESPECT, FIDELITY, SUPPORT AND ASSISTANCE (but note that you are not breaking the law by living apart from your spouse)CCQ 521.6
- MANAGE TOGETHER all family affairs, including parental authority and the choice of the family residence CCQ 521.6
- Women KEEP THEIR MAIDEN NAME (birth name), they do not take the name of their husband
- HOUSEHOLD EXPENSES ARE TO BE SHARED PROPORTIONALLY TO YOUR MEANS, which means that if your spouse makes a lot more money than you in his job, he could be obliged to pay more for the family groceries CCQ 521.6
- BOTH ARE EQUALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEBTS that the other person owes if they are related to family expenses, which means that if you go into debt for buying a new family fridge, both you and your spouse are responsible for paying back the debt CCQ 521.6
- RECOGNITION OF SURVIVING SPOUSE AS A SUCCESSOR if the deceased spouse does not make a will
- CREATION OF A FAMILY PATRIMONY, and you can decide whether or not it is governed by a civil union regime of “partnership of acquests” or “separation as to property” (see “what happens to my things when I get married for a full explanation of your patrimony and the matrimonial regimes of partnership of acquests and separation as to property)
Your things, including your house, car, brush, carpet, plants etc., are governed by the same laws if you are in a marriage or a civil union. As such, please see the “What happens to my things once I get married” section above. The rules that apply to marriage equally apply to civil unions.
Do note that while the law is the same, the names of things are different. Therefore, while in a marriage your things are organised by the “matrimonial regime,” in a civil union your things are governed by a “civil union regime.” Other than the different name, they are otherwise identical.
As in the case of marriage, the future spouses may choose one of the two civil union regimes: “partnership of acquests” or “separation as to property.” Spouses who do not choose a specific regime are automatically governed by the regime of “partnership of acquests.”
|Civil status: You can’t already be married or in a civil union with someone if you want to get married or be in a civil union with someone else
Free consent: Both people must be fully consenting in both marriage and civil unions
Rights and obligations: The rights and obligations the spouses owe each other are the same in both marriage and civil unions
|Age : you can be married at 16 with parental consent, in a civil union the youngest age permitted is 18Recognition: Marriage is always recognised outside Quebec, whereas a Quebec civil union is not necessarily recognised outside Quebec. Speak with a lawyer to get more informationLeaving your spouse:
marriage = it is called a divorce
civil union = it is called a dissolution (it has the same effect as a divorce, just a different name)
both marriage and civil unions allow for separation
See the “I want to leave my partner” section for more information on the differences between the two. For more information, please see I WANT TO LEAVE MY PARTNER