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Separation and divorce

Managing your child’s RESP when you break up

If you’ve invested in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) to finance your child’s post-secondary education, you might be wondering what options are available to you in the event of a breakup. Here’s what you need to know about your rights and what you should consider when it comes time to make a decision.

Who is the subscriber under the plan?

First of all, you need to confirm the name of the subscriber under the child’s RESP. Generally, the subscriber is the person who opened the RESP and whose name appears on the original contract.

Both parents can also be joint subscribers under the RESP. This is generally the case where they have opened the RESP together.

If you’re not sure, contact your RESP promoter.

When only one parent is the subscriber

In principle, the parent registered as the subscriber can decide to withdraw the contributions made under the RESP and to use this money as he or she chooses without the other parent’s authorization. The source of the funds invested in the RESP is not important; all that matters is that this parent is the subscriber.

A parent who wishes to withdraw funds from the RESP before the child is eligible, however, should bear in mind that fees or penalties may apply.

Warning for married couples

The money in a child’s RESP can sometimes be the subject of financial compensation upon divorce, even if only one spouse is the subscriber. This is the case, for example, when the amounts invested in the RESP came from one of the spouse’s acquests, i.e., the property or money that must be divided with his or her ex upon divorce.

In such a case, the parent who is not the subscriber can ask a judge to allow him or her to manage the RESP or impose certain restrictions on the parent subscriber when it comes to withdrawing money from the RESP.

En apprendre plus

Matrimonial Regimes: Partnership of Acquests (Éducaloi)

Closing or maintaining the RESP: factors to consider

Before deciding whether to withdraw funds from the RESP, to keep it as is, or to continue making contributions to the plan, it's important to consider several factors. For example:

  • penalties if you withdraw funds or stop making contributions,
  • the RESP’s performance,
  • your personal and family budget,
  • your ability to cooperate with your ex to maintain the RESP,
  • the potential impact on the amount of child support when your child reaches the age of majority.

Consult a financial advisor to select the option that best suits your needs.

En apprendre plus

Frequently asked questions for the Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) (Government of Canada) 

En apprendre plus

Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) (Government of Canada)


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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