Spouses can request a legal separation if their marriage is broken beyond repair. Spouses are technically still married, even after they decide to live separately. This is referred to as separation from bed and board.
Legal separation can be an alternative to an actual divorce if for example, partners do not have sufficient financial capacity to separate or if cohabitation is no longer possible. We are going to address the most frequently asked topics related to legal separation. Please note that this is specifically based on the separation agreements in Quebec.
A legal separation starts with submitting a draft agreement to the court. Both spouses can ask for a separation, either separately or jointly. Even though a legal separation is not an official divorce, similar rules apply.
Dissolution of Marriage After Legal Separation
If, after the legal separation, the spouses decide to separate permanently after, a dissolution of the matrimonial regime may be requested.
Consequences of a Legal Separation
● As of the date of separation, the parties future income wealth remains their own, unless there was reconciliation after that point. This (may) have consequences for housing, insurance and pension;
● In most cases, the spouses no longer live together. In that case, a visitation arrangement must be agreed upon if there are children since the spouses continue to retain joint custody;
● If one of the legally separated spouses finds a new partner, they cannot enter into a registered partnership or get married;
● If the (former) husband/wife incurs debts after legal separation, the other is not responsible for these debts;
● If one of the spouses dies without a specified will, the other will inherit it.
Reconciliation or reversal of the legal separation
Separation from bed and board can be reversed. This usually happens when the spouses decide they still love each other, life is better together, life is easier together, the grass is not greener on the other side!