About family patrimony

General notice

Division of family patrimony

If you would like more information on the division of family patrimony following a legal separation or divorce or the dissolution of a civil union, see our section on the subject.

When you marry or form a civil union, you also create a family patrimony. The family patrimony contains the property belonging to you and your spouse that you use to meet your family’s needs, whether or not you have children.

The creation of a family patrimony ensures that you and your spouse enjoy legal and economic equality, by guaranteeing you a fair share in your joint property.

Property included in the family patrimony

Your family patrimony is made up of all the property used by your family, regardless of whether it is owned by you or your spouse. It includes:

  • all the residences used by your family (condominium, house or cottage);
  • the furniture and other items used by the family in those residences (bed, TV, stove, table, etc.);
  • the motor vehicles used for family transportation.

Your rights and obligations concerning the family residence 

If you are the sole owner or your house or condominium, you must still obtain your spouse’s authorization before selling or hypothecating the property. 

This is because, when you married or formed your civil union, your domicile became your family residence and became subject to the rights that protect the family residence.

Money, benefits and earnings

The family patrimony also includes some of the money that your or your spouse have acquired during your marriage or civil union, such as:

Property excluded from the family patrimony

Some property is excluded from the family patrimony, such as:

  • personal property that only you or your spouse use, such as jewelry;
  • property that was a gift or a bequest to one of the spouses either before or during the marriage or civil union, and any increase in its value;
  • a business or farm, except the residential portion;
  • cash and bank accounts;
  • savings bonds, treasury bonds, shares and other investments (except RRSPs);
  • amounts accrued by either spouse in:
    • a profit-sharing plan,
    • a supplementary pension plan for high-income earners, or
    • a non-registered annuity plan.

Last update: April 6, 2023

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