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Separation and divorce

What can you take when you leave the family home?

You’re about to leave the family home and you’re wondering what items you’re allowed to take? Your rights depend on the type of relationship you’re in, but also, in some cases, on the property involved. Here are the rules that apply and some suggestions of documents not to leave behind.

You’re married

Even if you own a particular item, you may not be able to take it with you.

To determine whether you can take an item with you, first consider whether you’ll need it for your family or for your home.

If the item is needed by your family or for the family home, then you’ll need your ex’s consent to leave with it, even if you’re the owner.

This could include your bed, kitchen furniture, or most household appliances.

Home decorations, such as paintings and works of art, also fall into this category.

Important

Even if your ex allows you to take an item with you when you break up, you may have to split the value between the two of you at the time of the divorce. It all depends on the rules governing the division of your property.

If, on the other hand, the item is not needed by your family or for the family home, you need to determine who the owner is.

  • If you own the item: you can take it with you
  • If your ex owns the item: you have to get permission from your ex to take it
  • If you and your ex co-own the item: you have to agree with your ex about who will keep it

If you can't agree, you can ask a judge to decide who can keep the property, how to divide its value, and whether the other party should receive financial compensation.

Important

Even if you’re allowed to take an item with you after you break up, you may have to split the value between you and your ex at the time of the divorce. It all depends on the rules governing the division of your property..

You’re in a de facto relationship

The rule is simple: you can leave with all your property. In other words, you can take everything you own.

If you bought any property with your ex, you’re considered co-owners of this property. You will therefore have to reach an agreement on who can keep it.

If you can’t agree, you can ask a judge to decide who can keep the property, how to divide its value, and whether the other party should receive financial compensation. A lawyer’s help is often necessary with this type of application because the steps involved are quite complex.

Personal belongings and important documents

Before you leave the home, take a moment to gather your personal belongings and any documents you may need in the future, especially when it comes time to start your separation or divorce proceedings.

Some documents may belong to both of you. For example, a couple has only one marriage certificate.

It’s better to get your ex’s consent before leaving with the originals of these shared documents. If you’re not sure, you can make a copy or take a picture of it with your cell phone.

 

Personal belongings   Effets personnels

  • Your clothes
  • Your medication and prescriptions
  • Your personal photos and souvenirs
  • Your work materials.

 

Identity and civil status   Pièces d’identité et état civil

  • Your social insurance and health insurance cards, your driver’s licence, your passport, and your other ID
  • Your marriage certificate and your marriage contract (if applicable)
  • Your cohabitation agreement (if applicable)
  • Your birth certificate.

 

Work and school   Emploi et scolarité

  • Work contract
  • Pay stubs
  • School transcripts and diplomas.

 

Property and car   Propriété et voiture

  • The lease or property titles
  • The car registration documents
  • The sales contract or rental agreement for the car.

 

Banking, tax, and billing   Banque, impôts et factures

  • Your credit and debit cards as well as your bank statements
  • Your mortgage, bank loan, and savings fund documents (RESP, RRSP, retirement plan…)
  • Your income tax returns and notices of assessment for the past few years
  • The invoices for property you have bought.

 

For your child  

If you and your ex agree that you can take your child with you, consider:

  • Birth certificate
  • Health insurance card and vaccination record
  • School materials
  • Clothes and school uniforms
  • Medication and EpiPen® Auto-Injector (if applicable)
  • Favourite items (toys, books, stuffed toys, etc.).

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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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.