Definition of "spouse"

The definition of "spouse" varies from one program to another. It often determines whether your spouse is eligible for a benefit under the Québec Pension Plan, a public-sector pension plan, a supplemental pension plan, a voluntary retirement savings plan (VRSP), a locked-in retirement account (LIRA), a life income fund (LIF), or Family Allowance.

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).

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