Marriage and civil union are the two unions recognized in Quebec civil law. Therefore, spouses who choose to live together without formal union, will not have rights under the Civil Code of Quebec. The de facto union does not establish any particular legal status between the two spouses. However, there are several laws that grant de facto spouses the same rights and obligations as spouses who are married or in a civil union.
Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, the brevity or longevity of the common-law relationship in no way changes the status of common-law spouses and they can never benefit from a legal status granted to married or civil unions. It is therefore preferable for de facto spouses to avail themselves in advance of a contract setting out their mutual wishes in the event of a break-up.
Family Residence in case of Separation
The main concern is the family home.
The protection afforded by the Civil Code of Québec with respect to the family residence is only applicable, in the event of a breakup, for married or civil union couples.
However, during a break-up, the non-owner common-law partner can find himself, overnight, on the pavement.
In order to avoid such a situation, two (2) solutions are possible. The first is the one mentioned above, namely to conclude a contract providing for the terms of the break-up. The second, in the event that a common-law couple plans to acquire an immovable to serve as a family residence, is to purchase the immovable property under undivided co-ownership.
Another consequence of the break-up between spouses living in a common-law relationship is that the wealthiest spouse has no obligation to subvert the needs of the less fortunate spouse through alimony.
Protection of Children in Quebec
Unlike their common-law parents, children born out of wedlock are protected by Quebec civil law, just like a child from a married or civil union. Thus, the legislator does not discriminate against children in regard to the maintenance obligation of their parents towards them.