Definition of spouse

The definition of "spouse" varies from one program to another and often determines whether your spouse is eligible for a pension or a benefit.

Find out the definition that applies to:

Québec Pension Plan

Your spouse is the person to whom you are married or with whom you are in a civil union or a de facto (common law) union.

Your de facto (common law) spouse is the person to whom you are not married or in a civil union with but with whom you have been living in a conjugal relationship for:

  • at least 3 years
    or
  • 1 year if a child has been or is to be born of your union or if you have adopted a child together.

    Take note! For your de facto spouse to be recognized, you must not be married to or in a civil union with another person  

Public-sector pension plans (RREGOP, RRPE, etc.)

Your spouse is the person to whom you are married or with whom you are in a civil union. If you are neither married nor in a civil union, it is the person who is considered your de facto spouse.

Your de facto (common law) spouse is the person whom you publicly present as your spouse and with whom you have been living in a conjugal relationship for a period of time that varies from plan to plan. For most public-sector pension plans, you must have been living in a conjugal relationship for:

  • at least 3 years
    or
  • 1 year if a child has been or is to be born of your union or if you have adopted a child together.

Take note! For your de facto spouse to be recognized, you must not be married to or in a civil union with another person.

Child assistance

Your spouse is the person to whom you are married or with whom you are in a civil union or a de facto (common law) union.

Your de facto (common law) spouse is the person with whom you have been living in a conjugal relationship: 

  • for at least 12 months (a separation of less than 90 days does not interrupt the 12-month period)
    or
  • who is the biological or adoptive parent of at least one of your children.

Supplemental pension plans, LIRAs and LIFs, that are subject to the Supplemental Pension Plans Act

Your spouse is the person to whom you are married or with whom you are in a civil union or a de facto (common law) union.

Your de facto (common law) spouse is the person to whom you are not married or in a civil union with but with whom you have been living in a conjugal relationship for:

  • at least 3 years
    or
  • 1 year if a child has been or is to be born of your union or if you have adopted a child together.

If you are a member of a supplemental pension plan or you have a locked-in retirement account (LIRA) or a life income fund (LIF), a de facto relationship cannot be recognized if you are married to, or in a civil union with, another person. However, this restriction does not apply to your de facto spouse, who can be married to or in a civil union with another person.

Legal separation (separation from bed and board)

You are still considered to be married even if you are legally separated. In that case, a de facto spouse will not be recognized.

Furthermore, the spouse from whom you are legally separated will not be recognized as your spouse by your supplemental pension plan or by the administrator of your locked-in retirement account (LIRA) or your life income fund (LIF).

Example

Two years after their wedding, Manon and Louis separated with no judgment rendered. They share custody of their children. Manon has been in a de facto union with Carl for ten years. Who are the spouses?


Québec Pension Plan

Public-sector pension plans (RREGOP, PPMP, etc.)
  • Louis and Manon are considered spouses for the purpose of partitioning the family patrimony. If partition of the family patrimony is not carried out, Louis can be recognized as Manon’s spouse  for the surviving spouse’s pension because they are still married.
  • If Manon and Louis’ family patrimony is partitioned and Manon dies, Carl will not be recognized as her spouse for the purpose of the surviving spouse’s pension. (She is still married to Louis at the time of her death.)
For Carl to be recognized as Manon’s spouse, she must be divorced from Louis and Carl cannot be married to another person.

Child assistance

Carl is recognized as Manon's spouse for the purpose of calculating her child assistance payments.

Supplemental Pension Plans Act

Louis is the only recognized spouse.

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