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New rights and obligations from 2025 for parents in a common-law union

Photo: Valérian Mazataud Archives Le Devoir Only people who are neither married nor in a civil union and who have or adopt children after June 29, 2025 will be automatically enrolled in the new regime.

The formation of a “parental union” regime for unmarried parents is about to come to fruition. Eleven years after Eric c. Lola, the National Assembly unanimously adopted the CAQ reform of marital law on Thursday. Here is what it will change for common-law couples.

From June 2025, couples who have or who adopt children outside of the marital or civil union regime will automatically integrate the new Quebec parental union regime. The latter, instituted through Bill 56 by the Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barrette, creates new rights, but also new obligations for unmarried parents.

Among these: sharing common property in the event of separation. With its new law, Quebec will establish next year “a parental union heritage”, made up of the family’s residences, its furniture and its vehicles. At the end of a union, this heritage will be shared equitably between the two spouses.

People with children after June 29, 2025 will be automatically enrolled in the new plan. If they want to withdraw, they will have to proceed by notarial deed. Unmarried couples who had children before the change in the law will have to expressly request to join the regime by making “a positive gesture”, as Minister Jolin-Barrette described it.

As its name suggests, parental union will not apply to couples without children. When introducing his reform, Minister Jolin-Barrette said he did not want to “forcefully marry” Quebecers.

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As for married people, a spouse in a parental union may inherit from the other in the event of death, provided that the couple have been “living together for at least one year”. After a divorce, he can request a “compensatory benefit” from the court.

Still differences with marriage

The marital and parental union regimes also differ on several points. If RRSPs and pension plans are part of the family assets of married couples, they have not been included in the division of property of future couples in a parental union.

This decision by Minister Jolin-Barrette startled more than one woman when the bill was tabled in March. In a special consultation, the Council on the Status of Women denounced the creation of a two-tier system advantageous for men in the event of a separation. “Both the overall income and the retirement and investment income of women aged 65 and over are lower than those of men,” he recalled.

The law will not change anything. In its final version, it continues to exclude RRSPs and pension plans from the parental union regime. These will therefore return in their entirety to their holder in the event of a rupture. The alimony owed to each other by married people will not apply to couples in parental union either.

In Quebec, 42% of couples live in a common-law union, according to the Institut de la tourisme du Québec. This is more than in Sweden (33%), the United Kingdom (21%) and France (18%), according to Statistics Canada.

< h2 class="h2-intertitre">Judicial violence

According to Simon Jolin-Barrette, “law 56” will also allow members of a separated couple to protect from “judicial violence”. This concept, raised more and more often in Quebec courts, refers to legal actions taken abusively by an individual to continue to maintain control over a former life partner.

The bill adopted Thursday effectively provides that a “court which declares that a request […] is abusive shall order the party who introduced this request […] to pay damages.”< /p>

“We are thus giving the courts the tools to detect this type of abuse in matters of family law and […] sanction them”, launched Mr. Jolin-Barrette enthusiastically, Thursday, a few minutes before adopting the bill.

What they said

“In certain other respects, we would have liked the protections to be more extensive, to be more complete, so as not to create several classes of children. But overall, this step forward was necessary. » — Madwa-Nika Cadet, spokesperson for the Quebec Liberal Party for youth

“Heritage will add a significant layer of protection to families. This is an important element. We pointed out that it would have been appropriate to add retirement plans, TFSAs, RRSPs, etc. It was not the ministerial decision. » — Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, spokesperson for Québec solidaire pour la famille

“It was not only this decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the famous Éric v. Lola case that sent us the signal, but it was Quebec society, in fact, which said: “ Well, it’s time to review these rules.” » — Pascal Paradis, spokesperson for the Parti Québécois on justice matters

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116