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 with whom you are in a relationship, and 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
  • at least 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!

    A de facto (common law) spouse is eligible for a surviving spouse's pension only if the deceased (who was his or her spouse) was not married to or in a civil union with another person.

Public-sector pension plans (RREGOP, PPMP, 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, the status of spouse is granted to 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
  • at least 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 as your spouse, neither you nor your spouse can be married to or in a civil union with another person. This condition applies to several public-sector pension plans (RREGOP, PPMP, TPP, CSSP, etc.). However, there are exceptions (PPFEQ, RPCHCN, PPCJBJ, PPCJQ, etc.).

Family Allowance

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 relationship for at least 12 months (any separation of less than 90 days does not end the 12-month period).

A person is also recognized as your de facto spouse when he or she 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 as well as VRSPs

Your spouse is the person with whom you are in a relationship, and 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
  • at least 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 a voluntary retirement savings plan (VRSP),  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, regardless of whether one of you has a de facto spouse, he or she 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 a voluntary retirement savings plan (VRSP), or by the administrator of your locked-in retirement account (LIRA) or your life income fund (LIF).


 

Examples

Exemple 1

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 is who's spouse?

Québec Pension Plan

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

If Manon is a member of a public-sector pension plan:

  • 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.

Family Allowance

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

Supplemental pension plans, VRSPsLIRAs and LIFs

If Manon is a member of a supplemental pension plan or VRSP, or has an LIRA or LIF:

  • Louis is recognized as Manon's spouse because they are still married and are not legally separated.
  • Carl cannot be recognized as Manon's spouse because she is still married to Louis.

Exemple 2

A few years after getting married, Manon and Louis legally separated (separation from bed and board) and they never resumed living together. Manon than met Simon, with whom she has been living for three years. Manon does not have any children (with Louis or Simon).
Who is who's spouse?

QPP

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

If Manon is a member of a public-sector pension plan:

  • Manon and Louis 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, Simon 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 Simon to be recognized as Manon's spouse, she must be divorced from Louis. In addition, Simon cannot be married to another person.

Supplemental pension plans, VRSPsLIRAs and LIFs

If Manon is a member of a supplemental pension plan or VRSP, or has an LIRA or LIF:

  • Louis is not recognized as Manon's spouse because they are legally separated (separation from bed and board).
  • Simon cannot be recognized as Manon's spouse because she is still married to Louis.

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