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Separation and divorce

Understanding the legal language used by the judge

When you read the judgment you’ve received, you may find that some expressions and legal terms used by the judge are difficult to understand. Here are some examples and their meanings.

Some legal terminology

In the conclusions of his or her judgment, the judge could accept your requests. In that case, the judge “grants” them. The judge may also decide on what you can and cannot do. In that case, the judge “orders” you to comply. A judge may also make official a commitment you’ve made, or an agreement you’ve reached with your ex. In this case, the judge “gives act to” or “ratifies” the agreement or commitment.

 

Legal expressions

Here are some examples of legal expressions you may find in your judgement, along with explanations of what they mean. They are divided by subject.

 

 

  • “Orders X to pay child support to Y for the benefit of the minor child”

    This means the judge has ordered one of you to make child support payments to the other. The conclusions will also provide the details of the payments, such as:
    • The amount
    • The frequency of payments
    • The date of the first payment
    • The method of payment

  • “Orders X to pay spousal support to Y”

    This means the judge has ordered one of the ex-spouses to make support payments to the other. This is only possible in the case of married couples. The conclusions will also provide the details of the payments, such as:
    • The amount
    • The frequency of payments
    • The date of the first payment
    • The method of payment

 

To be noted

If your judgment states that support payments for your child or ex-spouse are “payable directly to the Québec Ministry of Revenue”, you don’t have to take any steps to make the payments. Revenu Québec will take responsibility for collecting and transferring the support payments to your ex. This could take a few weeks, because the court has to send the judgment to Revenu Québec, which will then contact you regarding the details.

Did you know?

Since March 2021, the Divorce Act uses "parenting time" instead of "custody" and "access rights" when referring to the time that a child spends with each parent. If you're married, it's the expression you'll find in your legal proceedings and judgments rendered by the Court.

However, the terms "custody" and "access rights" are still used for de facto partners. 

 

  • “Orders X to pay within 30 days of this judgment”

    This means that you have 30 days to pay the amounts set out in the judgment. The time begins to run on the date you receive a “Notice of Judgment” informing you that a judgment has been rendered in your file, or, if the judgment was rendered at the court hearing, from the date of the judgment itself.

  • “Orders provisional execution notwithstanding appeal”

    This means the court has ordered that you or your ex must comply immediately with the conclusions of the judgment, without waiting for the expiration of the usual 30-day period during which you can appeal the judgment.

 

  • “The whole without costs”

    Despite what this might lead you to believe, this does not mean you are exempt from paying court costs. On the contrary, it means that you and your ex each remain responsible for your own court costs.

 

Certain conclusions appear only in divorce judgments, meaning only for couples who were married.

  • “Grants a judgment of divorce”

    This means the judge accepts the application for divorce. However, you must generally wait until the 31st day following the judgment to be officially divorced. Once that date arrives, the court will send you your divorce certificate.

  • “Orders the partition of the family patrimony”

    This means the value of your family patrimony has been divided, and that you and your ex no longer share a family patrimony. The judge may further specify whether one of you must pay the other a sum of money, or one of you must transfer one or several items of property to the other.

  • “Declares the matrimonial regime to be dissolved” or “Declares the partnership of acquests to be dissolved”

    This means that the value of any property you have accumulated, other than the property in the family patrimony, is divided between you and your ex in the manner described by the judge. The judge may further specify whether one of you must pay the other a sum of money, or one of you must transfer one or several items of property to the other.

 

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Warning

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.

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