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Separation and divorce

De facto partners with children: Main steps in obtaining a judgment in a separation

If you’re de facto partners and would like to ask a judge to settle certain aspects of your separation such as custody or child support, read on. Here are the main stages you can expect in a “contested” judicial proceeding – that is, when you and your ex don’t agree on all the elements needed to make a joint application. The steps are the same whether you’re represented by a lawyer or not.

If you have no children or your applications have nothing to do with your children

If you don’t have any applications concerning your children or if you don’t have any children, the rules are different, and the information on this page doesn’t apply to your situation.

Talk to a lawyer or a notary, or visit a legal clinic to learn more.

1) One of the partners prepares a written application

At this stage, also called the “commencement of proceedings,” one of the partners (or their lawyer) prepares the written application, called an “originating application.”

The written application must indicate what that partner wants the judge to decide about custody and child support. The partner can also add other financial requests related to the separation (e.g., division of property, division of co-owned property, financial compensation, etc.)

The partner that prepares the application is called the “applicant” or the “plaintiff” because they’re the one taking the initiative in bringing the legal proceeding.

The partner named in the application is called the “defendant.”

Do you have an urgent request for the judge?

If there are questions that need to be resolved quickly, you can also apply for a safeguard order.

This way you can obtain a temporary decision as you wait for the judge to make a final ruling on your main application.


A “fast lane” to a court judgment

At any time during the judicial process, you and your ex can speak with a mediator to help you reach an agreement.

The process of obtaining a judgment is usually faster when the partners agree to settle out of court because they don’t have to follow many of the steps necessary in a “contested” proceeding.


The information presented on this page is not a legal opinion or legal advice. This page explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. To obtain a legal opinion or legal advice on your personal situation, consult a legal professional.

New on JuridiQC!

Joint Divorce Help Tool

Free and easy to use, JuridiQC’s help tool assists married couples who don’t have children together as they prepare their joint divorce application. From filling out documents to filing them at the courthouse, we provide step-by-step guidance.