Common-law spouses: Chambre des notaires du Québec raises awareness among Quebecers

MONTREAL, March 22, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - In accordance with its mission of ensuring the protection of the public, the Chambre des notaires du Québec is launching a public information campaign inviting common-law spouses to visit a website designed specifically for them: The site dispels the myths surrounding common-law unions and provides information about the rights and responsibilities of Quebecers who have chosen to live in this type of partnership.

The Chambre has also taken the opportunity presented by the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of Éric vs. Lola to survey Quebecers on their knowledge of the rights and obligations that stem from common-law unions. The results* are surprising, if not shocking.

  • 62% of respondents believe that in the event of separation, all assets and property acquired during the course of their common-law union will be divided equally.
  • 58% of respondents are unaware that the lower-income spouse in a common-law union is not entitled to alimony in the event of separation.
  • 42% of respondents are unaware that a common-law spouse who is the sole owner of the residence is legally entitled to sell it without the consent of their significant other, even if he or she has contributed financially to the residence.
  • 81% of Quebecers who are in a common-law relationship do not have a cohabitation contract.

The Chambre commissioned a survey on the same issue in 2007.

"While over a third of couples in Québec have chosen to live in a common-law relationship, it is quite disturbing to see that the situation has not improved," says Jean Lambert, President of the Chambre des notaires du Québec. "In fact, if you compare these results with those from a similar survey conducted in 2007, you see that cohabitation contracts are still uncommon. This is especially troubling because the recent decision by the Supreme Court of Canada has not only generated a lot of discussion, but has also brought this issue out into the open."

The website provides information regarding the rights and obligations of common-law spouses in Québec, a short knowledge quiz on the issue and a series of solutions aimed at helping common-law partners better protect themselves.

"The best time to prepare for misfortune is when things are going well," Mtre Lambert adds. "In Québec, roughly one marriage in two ends in divorce, and we have no reason to believe that it is very different with common-law couples. People have difficulty believing that there might be a separation or early death, but these things do happen and it is important to prepare for such eventualities."

About the Chambre des notaires du Québec

The Chambre des notaires du Québec is the professional order that groups more than 3,800 notaries in the province. Its main mission is to ensure the protection of the public, which employs the services of its members. To this end, the Chambre supervises the training and admission of candidates to the notarial profession, as well as the ongoing training received by practising notaries. La Chambre also controls the practice of the profession through meticulous inspections of notarial offices, hears and processes complaints from the public and offers a service of conciliation and arbitration of accounts.

*Complete results of the survey are available upon request.

SOURCE: Chambre des notaires du Québec

For further information:

Martin Scallon
Director of Communications
514 879-1793, ext. 5912

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Chambre des notaires du Québec

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