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Home > Families and Couples > Marriage, civil union and common law union > Why draw up a cohabitation contract?

Why draw up a cohabitation contract?

Contrary to popular belief, the protections stipulated by the Civil Code of Québec in favour of legally married or civil union couples do not apply to common law couples (or de facto spouses). This is even the case if the spouses have lived together all their lives. Some social or fiscal laws do, however, give common law spouses (opposite-sex or same-sex) the same rights as married or civil union spouses. Each of these laws establishes its own criteria (duration of cohabitation, existence of a child, etc.) for the recognition of certain legal effects of common law union. No general rule may be drawn from any one of these exceptions.

Determining the rules governing your relationship
Notaries have the legal expertise required to inform you of the rules that apply (or do not apply) to your situation. They can tell you all you need to know about the civil and tax implications of your common law union. If necessary, they may suggest drawing up a notarial agreement detailing all the rules that you want to have govern your relationship.

The contents of such an agreement may vary, depending on what you wish to include.

For instance, you may wish to include provisions concerning:

  • ownership rights in the shared residence
  • administration and disposal of property acquired during cohabitation
  • gifts of furniture and other property
  • fate of the shared residence in the event of separation or death, such as granting the priority for the right of purchase to the former spouse
  • right to alimony following a separation
  • division of certain property on separation