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Separation and divorce

Compensatory allowance: When one spouse’s contribution leads to the other spouse’s enrichment

Did you invest time or money that enriched your ex’s patrimony during the marriage? In some situations, you can receive a “compensatory allowance”. Here’s what you need to know about this remedy.

What is a compensatory allowance?

A compensatory allowance is financial compensation paid by one spouse to the other.

It can be paid in one or several instalments or involve the transfer of one or more properties.

It’s awarded to spouses who enriched their ex’s patrimony at their own expense, by contributing money, goods, or services.

When can you apply for a compensatory allowance?

Unless you reach an agreement with your ex, you can obtain a compensatory allowance if you can prove to a judge that all the following conditions are met:

  1. You made a contribution.
  2. Your ex’s patrimony has been enriched.
  3. You have been impoverished.
  4. There’s a causal connection between your impoverishment and your ex’s enrichment.
  5. There’s no other explanation for your ex’s enrichment or your impoverishment.

As a general rule, you won’t have to prove conditions 4 and 5 in the list above. Unless there’s evidence to the contrary, judges take it for granted that there’s a connection between the impoverishment and the enrichment and that no other explanation is possible. Your ex will have to prove that there’s no connection between the impoverishment and the enrichment or that there’s another explanation for his or her enrichment or your impoverishment.

Here are a few examples of cases where judges have granted a compensatory allowance:

  • The wife took care of the household chores and the children practically all by herself, in addition to supervising the construction of various residences that the family owned over the years.
  • The wife worked for her husband’s company for no salary and was also responsible for the household chores and for caring for and raising the couple’s children. This allowed the husband to devote more time to developing his business.

How can you obtain a compensatory allowance?

You can start by trying to reach an agreement with your ex so that he or she can pay you a compensatory allowance. A mediator can also help find a solution that works for you both.
If you’re unable to reach an agreement, you can apply to the court so that a judge can decide. In this case, you should add an application for a compensatory allowance to your “Divorce application”.

The application should specify why you think you’re entitled to a compensatory allowance and the amount you’re asking for.

To know what amount to ask for, speak with a lawyer or a notary. Several factors have to be considered in the calculation, which can be complex, depending on the situation.

To determine whether you’re entitled to a compensatory allowance, the judge will review the conditions listed above, and possibly consider other factors as well.

For example, the judge may refuse to grant you a compensatory allowance if he or she finds that:

If the judge finds that you’re entitled to a compensatory allowance, he or she may specify the amount and the terms. In such a case, the judge will determine the extent to which your contribution has enriched your ex.


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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