4 Legal Preparations for a Marriage or Civil Union in Quebec
As a Quebec couple interested in getting married, you must fulfill several obligations before you can legally walk down the aisle. These requirements are outlined below, along with essential steps to take before saying ‘I do.’
Here are the 4 legal preparations for a marriage or a civi union in Quebec:
1. Meeting Legal Requirements
Are you and your partner legally eligible to marry? You must meet the following requirements that will be validated by your officiant (notary, minister or an approved officiator):
- Both partners must be 16 or older — or 18 for a civil union. For marriage: if one or both partners are under 18, they must obtain consent from their tutors.
- Spouses cannot be brothers, sisters, parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, half-brothers, half-sisters, or otherwise directly related.
- Future spouses cannot be married to anybody else.
- Both parties should be able to provide free and informed consent to the marriage.
All of the above will be checked by your officiator with 2 valid pieces of ID including birth certificates. Prior to the date of solemnization, it’s important to meet with your officiant to ensure he or she has all information required to perform the marriage — and to ensure that the marriage will be legally valid.
2. Publishing a Notice of Marriage
Quebec law requires future spouses to provide public notice of their intention to marry at least 20 days before the ceremony. If this requirement is not met, the marriage could be declared null.
Notices of marriage should include not only information about the future spouses, but also the scheduled date and address of solemnization. Additionally, marriage notices should include the officiant’s name, so the Directeur de l’état civil can ensure this person is authorized to perform the ceremony.
As of January, 2018, all notices of marriage are published on the website for Quebec’s Directeur de l’état civil , rather than in courthouses or places of ceremony.
3. Order the Declaration of Marriage Form
The Civil Code of Québec mandates a declaration of marriage, which allows the Directeur de l’état civil to enter the marriage into the Quebec civil register. The official form for the declaration of marriage is available from the Directeur de l’état civil (DEC). It will be prepared and completed by your officiant during the marriage ceremony.
4. Selecting Matrimonial Regimes as Part of the Marriage Contract
In Quebec, matrimonial regimes determine how properties and debts acquired while married will be handled both for the duration of the marriage and in the event of divorce. Quebec’s matrimonial regimes include:
- Partnership of Acquests:
Automatically applied in most Quebec marriages, the partnership of acquests divides property into two categories: property acquired during the marriage (acquests) and private property. At the end of the regime, acquests are divided between partners.
- Community of Property:
Partners have different powers under the optional community of property regime. For example, the husband is charged with managing community property, while the wife handles reserved property (such as her own income). Upon divorce, property is co-owned unless the wife waives community property. Do note that this regime no longer exist as of July 1st 1970.
- Separation as to Property:
Optional in notarized marriage contracts, the separation as to property regime allows partners to maintain greater financial independence and does not partition most property upon divorce.
Your notary can walk you through the legal rights and obligations included in each regime as they draft your marriage contract — and help you choose the best option for your unique situation. Detailed counsel from a knowledgeable notary is critical as you prepare not only for a beautiful ceremony, but also for the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage or civil union.