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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

It’s important to note that you might not be able to take all your cherished belongings with you when you leave, or at least not without your ex’s consent. Your rights depend on the property involved.

You can take your:

  • Clothes and jewellery
  • Medication and prescriptions
  • Personal photos and souvenirs
  • Work materials, such as your agenda and books.

You can take household items and effects if you’re the only person that uses them and if they aren’t used or owned by another family member, such as a bicycle, a pair of skis, or a musical instrument.

However, there is a grey area. For example, a stove that you own and that no one else but you uses may be considered a household item for the family’s use because the entire family eats the meals prepared on it. You will therefore need your ex’s consent to take it.

You need to get your ex’s consent before leaving the home with household items and effects used by the family. All household items used by the family on a daily basis are considered household items for the family’s use, regardless of who the owner is. These items can therefore include most of the furniture, household appliances, electronic devices, or even decorative items.

En apprendre plus

Household Items and Personal Belongings After Separation (Éducaloi)

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.

Furthermore, it may be useful to take your:

  • Clothes and jewellery
  • Medication and prescriptions
  • Personal photos and souvenirs
  • Work materials, such as your agenda and your computer.

If you bought any property with your ex or if you don’t remember who bought a particular item, 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, either of you can apply to the court by filing an “Application for Partition”. A judge will then determine who can keep the property, how to divide its value, and the financial compensation due to each party. A lawyer’s help is often necessary with this type of application because the steps involved are quite complex.

En apprendre plus

Separation of Common-Law Couples: Furniture and Personal Belongings (Éducaloi)

Important documents

Before leaving the home, take a moment to gather any documents you might need in the future, especially when it comes time to proceed with your separation or divorce.

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.

Here is a list of important documents:


Identity and civil status

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

Work and school

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

Banking, tax, and billing

  • 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
  • Your original invoices for property you have bought.

If you have online applications or personal accounts that your ex can access (e.g., Facebook, email, online banking, cellphone carrier), consider changing your password.

Property and car

  • A copy of your lease or property titles
  • A copy of your car registration documents
  • A copy of the sales contract or rental agreement for the car.

Items to take for your child

If you have a child and there is an agreement that you will take your child with you, consider taking his or her:

  • 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.).


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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