When a Couple Separates


The definitions in this information guide are intended to familiarize you with the general terms in use. They have no legal value. You must verify with each department or agency to find out the definitions specific to each program or eligibility criterion. 

Note concerning de facto spouses

The definition of "spouse" varies from one program to another. You must check with each government department or body concerned to find out the eligibility criteria. As a rule, the spouses must have lived in a conjugal relationship for at least three years prior to the death of one of the spouses or for one year if a child was born or will be born shortly of their union or if a child was adopted.

Access rights
Parental rights to visit and take out the children after a separation. 

Application for review of a judgment
Proceeding to request the amendment of a judgment. 

Child assistance payments
Financial assistance paid to parents by Retraite Québec

Civil union
Legal union of a couple, of the same sex or opposite sex, with the associated rights and obligations. 

Compensatory allowance
Amount paid to one of the spouses to compensate for his or her contribution to the enrichment, in property or services, of the patrimony of the other. 

Custody rights
Parental obligations to supervise, care for and see to the education of their children. 

De facto separation
Decision of a couple to cease living together without settling the legal effects of the separation. 

De facto spouse
Person living in a conjugal relationship with another person without the undertaking of marriage or a civil union.

De facto union
Union of two persons who live together as a couple without being legally recognized spouses. 

Determination of support
Act of fixing the amount to be paid under a legal obligation to provide for the subsistence of a spouse and the couple’s children. 

Dissolution of a civil union
Dissolution executed before a notary or ordered by the Court to end the effects of a civil union. 

Dissolution of marriage pronounced by judgment. 

Family mediation
Negotiation with a couple that has broken up, with a view to reaching an amicable agreement. 

Family patrimony
Certain property provided for by law that is acquired by married or civil union spouses for the usual needs of the family. 

Foreign pension
Amount paid by a foreign country under a pension plan. 

Joint application for divorce on draft agreement
Divorce by mutual consent. 

Decision rendered by a court. 

Legal annulment of marriage
Declaration of nullity of a contracted marriage, from a legal standpoint only, because of a shortcoming. 

Status of a person who is officially united to another by marriage. 

Professional who negotiates agreements between two persons. 

Written or oral request. 

Act of abandoning or relinquishing a right. 

Separation from bed and board (legal)
Court decision releasing a married couple from the obligation to live together. 

Shared custody
Care and education of a child entrusted to both parents, providing for the child to live with each of them at least 40% of the time.  

Sole custody
Care and education of a child entrusted to one parent.