Glossary

Presentation of the glossary

This glossary defines many of the terms used on our website.

However, some specialized terms are not included. To find a definition, please go to the website Grand dictionnaire terminologique administered by the Office québécois de la langue française or the website Termium Plus.

Accessory measure
Definite decision settling a point in a divorce judgment.

Act of birth
Official document containing all the elements of an act of birth filed by a physician.

Act of death
Civil status document certifying a person's death, drawn up by the Registrar of Civil Status on the basis of the attestation of death and the declaration of death. The act of death is recorded in the register of civil status. 

Note
The Registrar of Civil Status may issue a copy of the act of death or a death certificate. These documents can be used to prove a person's death and are drawn up based on the information appearing in the original act recorded in the register of civil status. 

Act of marriage
Civil status document drawn up by the Registrar of Civil Status on the basis of the declaration of marriage forwarded by the officiant. The act of marriage is recorded in the register of civil status.

Note
The Registrar of Civil Status may issue a copy of the act of marriage or a marriage certificate. These documents can be used to prove a marriage and are drawn up based on the information appearing in the original act recorded in the register of civil status. 

Act of birth
Civil status document drawn up by the Registrar of Civil Status on the basis of attestation of birth and the declaration of birth attesting to a child's birth. The act of birth is recorded in the register of civil status.

Note
The Registrar of Civil Status may issue a copy of the act of birth or a birth certificate. These documents can be used to prove a birth and are drawn up based on the information appearing in the original act recorded in the register of civil status. 

Act of civil union
Civil status document drawn up by the Registrar of Civil Status on the basis of the declaration of civil union forwarded by the officiant. The act of civil union is recorded in the register of civil status.

Note
The Registrar of Civil Status may issue a copy of the act of civil union or a certificate of civil union. These documents can be used to prove a civil union and are drawn up based on the information appearing in the original act recorded in the register of civil status. 

Adultery
(In divorce cases) Voluntary sexual relations between an individual who is married and someone who is not the individual's spouse.

Advisor
Person designated by the court to help a person under protection make certain important decisions, without representing the person.

Affidavit
Oral or written statement, made by a person who has been duly sworn in, concerning a factual or legal situation.

Agreement

  1. Agreement between two former spouses settling all aspects of their separation that affect their children.
  2. Written or verbal agreement between two people.

Amicable divorce
Divorce in which the former spouses agree to the divorce and have settled some or all of the effects of the divorce. SEE Divorce by consent, Divorce on the basis of a draft agreement.

Amicable settlement
Document in which the parties end a dispute after reaching a settlement that satisfies both parties, without going to court.
SYNONYM Amicable arrangement, out-of-court settlement.

Annulment of marriage
Court decision that retroactively annuls the effects of a marriage, as if the marriage had never existed.
SYNONYM Nullity of a marriage.

Annulment of civil union
Court decision that retroactively annuls the effects of civil union, as if the civil union had never existed.
SYNONYM Nullity of a civil union.

Application for annulment
Legal document in which a formerde factospouse asks the court to annul a support payment.

Application for divorce
Legal document in which a person applies to the court for a divorce.

Application for probate of a will
Document used to launch the legal process to confirm the validity of a will or codicil.

Application for review
Legal document in which a formerde factospouse applies to the court for a review of a support payment or of custody or access rights.

Arrears
Amount owed because of a failure to pay.

As appears from…
Legal formula highlighting the manifest nature of the elements presented in the document concerned.

Authentic act
A document received or attested in accordance with the formalities required by the laws of Québec or of Canada by a competent public officer, such as a notary.

Authentic will
SEE Notarial will

Availability
Readiness to meet with a person and, in some cases, provide assistance.

Beneficiary
Person who receives an insurance payment after the death of the person insured.

Bequeath
To give property to a person or organization in a will.

Body donation
Action by whicha person leaves his or her body to a teaching institution for use in anatomical, medical or surgical research, teaching, or the practice of surgery.
SYNONYM Donation of a body to science, Donation of a body to medicine.

Burial
Way of disposing of a body by interring it in the ground.

Bury
To inter the body of the deceased.

Capacity
Ability of a person to pursue a physical, mental or professional activity.

Case

  1. Litigation brought before a court.
  2. Series of pleadings used to bring a case before a court and obtain a hearing and judgment.

Certificate or copy of an act of civil status
Official document issued by the Registrar of Civil Status attesting to a birth, marriage, civil union or death recorded in the register of civil status.

Certified copy

Reproduction of a written document that a competent authority has recognized as being identical to the original.

Civil marriage
Act completed before an authorized officiant who is not a minister of religion, in which two people are joined in public in a legal marriage.

Note
Other possible expressions: civil marriage ceremony, civil solemnization of marriage.

Civil status
All of a person's particulars, such as the person's name, gender, date of birth, nationality and matrimonial status. SEE Matrimonial status

Civil union
Act performed before a non-religious officiant in accordance with the legal formalities, in which two people, without marrying, undertake to live together officially in a civil union with the conditions, effects and purpose defined by law.

Civil union contract
Legal document in which the intended spouses specify how their property will be managed during their civil union and how it will be divided if their civil union is dissolved.

Civil union regime
All the legal provisions that govern the management and ownership of the property in the family patrimony of a couple in a civil union during their civil union and dissolution.

Clause
Provision in a legal document such as a will.

Clerk
Court officer who directs court office services and assists judges in the performance of their duties.

Codicil
Legal act that amends or cancels a will; it must meet the same conditions of validity as a will.

Cohabitation agreement
Legal document in which two people living together asde factospouses specify certain aspects of their life together and their eventual separation.

Collusion
Secret agreement between at least two people intended to subvert the law.

Common property
Property owned by at least two people.

Compensate
Remit an amount of money to a former spouse to compensate for a financial loss.

Compensatory allowance
Amount allocated to one spouse as compensation for the enrichment of the other spouse during their marriage or civil union.

Consent
Agreement to a proposal prior to the signing of a legal document.

Contestation
Legal action asking a judge to assess the validity of a will or the application of a clause in a will.

Contract made as a private writing
Legal document made without the assistance of a legal advisor.

Court

  1. Room in which a judge dispenses justice.
  2. Judge who hears a case in order to dispense justice.

Court office
Office providing administrative and legal services at a courthouse.

Courthouse
Building where the court generally holds sittings.

Cover
Outer protective layer of a printed document.

Cover page
Page containing information such as the name of the author, generally placed at the front of a document.

Credibility
Nature of something that is credible and trustworthy.

Creditor of support
Person who receives support payments either personally or for others (such as his or her children)

Cremate
To transform the body of the deceased into ashes.

Cremation
Process used to transform the body of a deceased person into ashes.

Cruelty

  1. Nature of a person who enjoys causing injury or suffering. Example: Nadia complains about James' cruelty.
  2. 2. Action intended to cause injury or suffering.

Curator
Legal representative of a person whose permanent and total incapacity has been legally recognized.

Curatorship
Protection for a person whose permanent and total incapacity has been legally recognized.

Custody
Right granted to a person to take care of another person, generally the person's child living with the person. SYNONYM Child custody SEE Sole custody, Joint custody

Date of institution of proceedings
Date on which proceedings are filed at the court office.

Declaration of death
Written declaration completed by the person declaring the death and forwarded to the Registrar of Civil Status.

Declaration of marriage
Written declaration drawn up by the officiant and signed during the solemnization of the marriage by the officiant, the spouses and the two witnesses. The officiant must forward the declaration to the Registrar of Civil Status.

Declaration of birth
Written declaration completed by parents following a child's birth and forwarded to the Registrar of Civil Status.

Declaration of civil union
Written declaration drawn up by the officiant and signed during the solemnization of the civil union by the officiant, the spouses and the two witnesses. The officiant must forward the declaration to the Registrar of Civil Status.

De facto union

Relationship in which two people live together as a couple without being in a marriage or civil union.

De factospouse
Person living with another person in the same way as a married couple, but without being married or in a civil union.

Debtor of support
Person required to pay support.

Deceased
Person who has died.

Designate
To name a person as an heir in a will.

Disposal of body
Manner in which the body of the deceased is disposed of after death.

Disposal of property
Manner in which property is divided between individuals.

Dissolution of a civil union
Legal decision terminating a civil union.

Dividend
Income generated by an investment in a company's share capital.

Divorce
Legal decision terminating a marriage.

Divorce by consent
Divorce in which the former spouses agree to the divorce but cannot file a joint application because they do not meet the conditions, or because they only reached an agreement after filing their application for divorce.

Divorce on the basis of a draft agreement
Divorce in which the former spouses agree to the divorce and have settled on all the effects of their separation, allowing them to file a joint application.

Draft agreement
Agreement between two former spouses settling all aspects of theirdivorce.

Duress
Physical or mental violence used to force a person to act against his or her will.

Duty on transfer of immovable
Duty charged by a municipality following the sale of immovable property.
SYNONYM Welcome tax.

Effect
Consequence of an action.

Employment income
Amount paid in return for a person's work.
SYNONYM Income

Exemption
Authorization allowing a person not to fulfill an obligation.

Exhibit
Document proving a fact in support of a plaintiff's legal claim.

Factor

  1. Condition affecting an event.
  2. Circumstance influencing a result.

Family expenditure
Amount spent to meet the family's needs (rent, groceries, power, clothes, etc.).

Family mediation
Dispute resolution process in which two former spouses seek solutions to their dispute in a way that meets the needs of all family members.

Family patrimony
All of the property acquired by a couple during their marriage or civil union.

Family relationship
Relationship between two people based on birth, adoption, marriage, civil union orde factounion.

Family residence
Family home

Family situation
A person's legal status based on family situation (married,de factospouse, etc.).

Fee
Amount paid to a notary or lawyer for professional services.

Filiation
Family relationship recognized by law between a father or a mother and his or her child.

Financial resources
A person's financial means.

Financial situation
A person's net assets, based on income, savings and debts.

Financing agreement
Legal document signed with a finance company, often through the assistance of a merchant, giving a client the financial means needed to complete a project such as a purchase of furniture.

Fiscal debt
Amount of income tax owed by a taxpayer.

Forgery
Document that has been forged to intentionally mislead.

Former spouse
Person no longer living in a marriage or civil union with another person.

Formerde factospouse
Person no longer living in ade factounion with another person.

Founded in fact an in law
Justified and legitimate.

Freeze
Action that suspends or prevents an activity.

Frequency
Number of times a given action occurs in a period of time.

Front
Front side of a piece of paper, as compared to the reverse side. SEE Reverse side

Funeral
All the ceremonies held in order to dispose of a body, for example by burial.

Ground
Reason given to justify an action or decision.

Guarantee
Amount guaranteeing the performance of an obligation.

Handicap

  1. Temporary or permanent situation in which a person loses, through accident or disease, some or all of his or her ability to work or perform some everyday actions.
    SYNONYM Disability
  2. Disadvantage resulting from a deficiency or impairment that hinders or limits a person's social activities.

Handwriting
Personal way of writing and forming letters.

Hearing
Public or private meeting during which the parties present and argue their case, generally leading to a judgment.

Hearing-impaired person
Person with a hearing impairment who communicates using mainly visual methods.

Heir
Person entitled to inherit.

Holograph
Handwritten.

Holograph will
Legal document written and signed by a person to provide for the distribution of the person's property after death.

Homologate
To validate a legal document to allow its execution.

Homologation
Recognition of a legal act to allow its execution.

Honourable
Honorary title used by a judge of the Superior Court or Court of Appeal.

Identity
Set of characteristics that distinguish an individual and allow him or her to be recognized.

Implead
Invite a third party to intervene in a case in order to complete the file for the judge and obtain a judgment.

Incapacity
Loss of a person's ability, recognized by a court, to take care of himself or herself and manage property.

Initial
To place one's initials on a document.

Initials
First letter of each of a person's first and last names, used in place of a signature.

Instalment
Amount paid periodically to obtain a benefit under a contract.

Insurance policy
Written document signed by the insured party and the insurer, confirming the insurance contract and specifying, among other things, the risks covered and the amount of the premium.

Inter
SEE Bury

Interest
Something that suits or is advantageous or beneficial to a person.

Interment
SEE Burial

Interpretation problem
Difficulty ascertaining the meaning of a statement.

Interpreter
Intermediary who translates the comments of one party into the language of the other party, and vice versa.

Inventory of property
List of a person's property.

Invisible handicap
Long-term, non-apparent deficiency that limits a person's interactions and is misunderstood by people unable to perceive it.

Irrevocable
Something that cannot be cancelled.

Joint application for divorce on the basis of a draft agreement
Legal document in which two former spouses apply to the court for a divorce, submitting at the same time a draft agreement that settles all aspects of their separation.

Joint custody
Right of custody granted to both parents, meaning that the children spend time with both parents.

Judgment
Decision made by a judge.
SYNONYM Decision.

Judicial district
Area served by a courthouse.

Last wishes
Decisions made by a person concerning the actions to be taken after his or her death.

Last wishes
Decisions made by a person concerning the actions to be taken after his or her death.

Late
Deceased.

Lawyer
A legal specialist who advises clients on legal matters and represents them in dealings with the justice system.

Legacy
Gift made to a person or organization in a will.

Legal advisor
Legal specialist whose main duty is to advise clients about the law.
SEE Lawyer, Notary

Legal document
Written document with legal value.

Legal heir
Person entitled to inherit according to law, if there is no will.

Legal protection
Protection granted by law.

Legal regime
Legal regime under which something is created or established.

Legal representative
Person acting on behalf of another person.

Legal value
Ability of a document, admitted in evidence before a court, to create, transfer or cancel a right.

Legatee
Person or organization that receives property as a legacy. SEE Legacy

Life insurance
Personal insurance under which an amount is paid to the beneficiary after the death of the person insured.

Liquidate a succession
SEE Settle a succession

Liquidation of a succession
SEE Settlement of a succession

Liquidator
Person designated to settle a succession.
SYNONYM Executor

Main residence
Place where a person resides habitually or permanently.

Majority
Status of a person who has reached legal age and can exercise his or her civil rights.

Marriage
Public act completed before an authorized officiant and in accordance with the formalities established by law, in which two people are joined in a marriage whose conditions, effects and dissolution are governed by law. 

Marriage contract
Legal document in which the intended spouses specify how their property will be managed during their marriage and how it will be divided in the event of their divorce.

Matrimonial regime
All the legal provisions that govern the management and ownership of the property in the family patrimony of a married couple during their marriage and divorce.

Matrimonial status
Legal status of a person with respect to marriage (married, single, separated, divorced or widowed).

Mediator
Professional (for example a lawyer, notary or psychologist) whose task is to facilitate negotiations between the parties in order to settle a dispute.

Mental handicap
Deficiency, disorder or genetic disease that may limit a person's ability to function in society. SEE Invisible handicap.

Merit
Recognition that an application has a valid basis and is legally sound.

Minor
Person who has not reached legal age and cannot exercise his or her civil rights.

Minority
Status of a person who has not reached legal age and cannot exercise his or her civil rights.

Non-notarial will
Legal document produced by a person without assistance from a notary.
SEE Will made in the presence of witnesses, Holograph will

Notarial
Document drafted by or signed before a notary.

Notarial act
An authentic document received or drawn up by a notary.

Notarial minutes of probate
Legal document setting out the decision of a notary concerning the validity of a will.

Notarial will
Legal document produced by a notary on behalf of a specific person to provide for the distribution of the person's property after death.
SYNONYM Authentic will

Notary
Legal specialist whose main duties are to advise clients on legal subjects and draft or receive legal documents. SEE Legal advisor

Notice
Document used to bring information concerning a specific matter to a person's attention.

Notification
Action of making a person aware of a fact, situation, document or judgment, in a way that makes it possible to prove that the person has been made aware.

Notify
To make a person aware of a fact, situation, document or judgment, in a way that makes it possible to prove that the person has been made aware.

Nullity of marriage
Court decision that retroactively annuls the effects of a marriage, as if the marriage had never existed.
SYNONYM Annulment of marriage.

Nullity of civil union
Court decision that retroactively annuls the effects of a civil union, as if the civil union had never existed.
SYNONYM Annulment of civil union.

Oath
Affirmation, made using the formalities required by law, that a person will do something.

Obligation
A duty a person must perform by law.

Obligation of support
A person's legal duty to pay money to another person, such as a child, parent or former spouse, for food, housing, care and clothing.

Offence
Action that infringes the rules provided by law, leading to punishment in the form of a fine or sentence.

Officiant (at a marriage or civil union)
Person authorized by law to solemnize marriages or civil unions.

Organ
Part of the body composed of specialist cells that performs a specific function.

Organ donation
Action by which a person leaves bodily organs (such as the heart, kidney or liver) to an organization for transplantation into another human being.

Orphan
Child who has lostone or bothparents.

Parental authority
All the rights and responsibilities held by a parent with respect to a minor child and the child's property.

Partnership of acquests
Matrimonial regime in which each spouse has shared and personal property.

Payment
Remittance of an amount of money to a person or organization as a payment or deposit.

Peace bonds
A peace bond (or "recognizance") is a court order requiring the person to whom it is directed to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. It may be issued as a way of resolving a conflict between two individuals (e.g. neighbours, spouses, former spouses) and can be in effect for up to 12 months.

A peace bond may be obtained by consulting a lawyer for assistance in the laying of an information, or by completing the form available at the court office of the Criminal Division of the Court of Québec in the nearest courthouse. Preparing a detailed summary of all the incidents giving rise to the application will facilitate establishing that a peace bond is needed.

Pension
Amount paid periodically from the money accrued from the beneficiary's contributions to a pension plan.

Pension plan
Plan under which a person receives periodic payments after retirement, in return for previous employment.

Person of full age
Person able to exercise civil rights after reaching legal age.

Personal property
Property owned by a person.

Physical handicap
Consequence of a deficiency affecting a limb or organ following trauma, sickness or a health problem.
SYNONYM Physical deficiency

Plaintiff
Party instituting proceedings before the court.

Please govern yourself accordingly
Written legal formula used at the end of a lawyer's letter to encourage the recipient to complete the specified actions.

Potential heir
Person entitled to inherit, even if not necessarily named by the deceased person in a will. SYNONYM successor

Power
Legal capacity to do something.

Power of attorney
Document in which a person authorizes another person to act in his or her name, for specific or general purposes. SEE Representation.

Preamble
First section in a legal document setting out the grounds for the application and the goals targeted.

Pressure
Action taken against a person by duress or influence in order to obtain an advantage or impose a point of view.

Probate of a will
Process in which a judge examines the original copy of a will by a judge, at the request of an interested party, and where applicable receives written and sworn statements from witnesses, in order to establish whether the will meets the conditions provided for by law.

Proceeds
Amount generated by the sale of anobject.

Property
Something owned by a person and that can be given.

Note
Property may be:

  • material, such as a house, car, book or jewel;
  • immaterial, such as a right or share.

Protection mandate
Document in which a person designates a third party to take care of him or her in the event of incapacity.
SYNONYM Mandate given in anticipation of incapacity. SEE Power of attorney.

Registered mail
Method of sending a letter or parcel allowing the sender to receive confirmation of dispatch and delivery.

Religious marriage
Act completed before an authorized officiant who is a minister of religion, in which two people are joined in public in a legal marriage.

Note
Other possible expressions: religious marriage ceremony, religious solemnization of marriage.

Representation
Performance of an action on behalf of another person. SEE Power of attorney
Request for an intervention by a third party in a case in order to reach a settlement.

Respondent
Third party whose interests may be affected by a judgment following a joint application.

Reverse side
The second side of a piece of paper. SEE Front side

Revocable
Something that can be cancelled.

Revoke
To cancel a legal document or clause.

Right
Power given to a person by law.

Search Request form
Form used to request a search for a will filed in one of the following registers:

  • Registres des testaments et mandats du Barreau du Québec;
  • Registre des dispositions testamentaires et des mandats de la Chambre des notaires du Québec.

The Search Request form also contains information on the filing of the will.

Secondary residence
Dwelling used for vacations or recreation.

Seizure
Proceeding allowing a person or company to obtain reimbursement by forcing another person to remit property to the justice system for subsequent sale.

Separation as to property
Matrimonial regime in which the property of the two spouses is not mingled.

Serve
To make a person aware of a fact, situation, document or judgment via the services of a bailiff.

Service
Making a person aware of a fact, situation, document or judgment via the services of a bailiff.

Settle a succession
To perform a series of actions to pay the debts of the deceased and remit the remaining property to the heirs.
SYNONYM Liquidate a succession.

Settlement of a succession
Process during which the debts (liabilities) of the deceased are paid to establish the share in the assets to be paid to each heir.
SYNONYM Liquidation of a succession.

Sign language
Language of gestures, expressions and postures associated with specific letters, figures and words, allowing a person to express ideas without being able to speak.

Sign-language interpreter
Intermediary who translates into spoken language the comments made by a party using sign language, and into sign language the comments spoken by the other party.

Simple administration
With respect to a mandate, the power of simple administration requires the holder of the power, in other words the mandatary, to perform all the acts necessary for the preservation of the property or useful for the maintenance of the use for which the property is ordinarily destined.

Sole custody
Right of custody granted to one parent only, meaning that the children spend most of their time with that parent.

Sound of mind
Able to make decisions.

Special clerk
Court officer who assists judges and may, in some circumstances, act in their place.

Spouse
Person joined to a another person by marriage or civil union.

Statement
Oral or written affirmation by a person concerning a factual or legal situation.

Succession

  1. All the property of a person transferred to others after the person's death;
  2. Transfer of a deceased person's property to another person or organization.

Successor
A person to whom a right passes; a person or group holding rights transferred by a third person.

Successor
Person who may become an heir.

Summon
To order a person in writing to appear before a court.

Summoned party
Person summoned.

Summons
Written order requiring a person to appear before a court.

Support order
Judgment requiring a person to pay support to another person.

Support payment
Amount set by the court that a person must pay to a family member for his or her support.

Suretyship
A contract by which a person binds himself or herself towards a creditor.

Surviving spouse clause
A clause in a will that states that the surviving spouse will inherit all the other spouse's property.

Swear
To make a solemn undertaking to write or tell the truth; to undertake to perform one's duties faithfully.

Swear in
To administer an oath under which a person swears to tell the truth, or to perform a task impartially and confidentially.

Table to determine the basic parental contribution
Table used to establish the amount of a child support payment.

Testamentary clause
Specific provision in a legal document that has the same value as a notarial will.

Testamentary provision
Point settled in a will.

Testamentary trust
Trust opened following a person's death and containing the inheritance of the person's children, for example, to be managed and distributed as provided for in the person's will.

Testator
Person making a will.

Threat
Word, gesture, attitude or document stating an intention to harm or injure another person if he she does not comply.

Tissue
Human cells that form a structure performing a specific function (for example, skin, bone, cornea, heart valve, bone marrow).

Tissue donation
Action by whicha person leaves bodily tissue (such as skin, bones, cornea or heart valve) to an organization for transplantation into another human being.

To form an integral part of
Legal expression specifying that a text is included in, and is an essential part of, another text.

Translation

  1. Production of text in another language;
  2. Reproduction of a text in another language.

Translator
Person who translates a written document into another language.

Tutor

  1. Legal representative of a person recognized as being partially and temporarily incapacitated.
  2. Person designated by a parent or child to care for an orphan.

Tutorship
Responsibility requiring a person to advise a minor and manage the minor's property.

Undersigned
Person who signed a document.

Validity
Quality of a legal document that meets the conditions needed to produce its legal effect.

Voluntary
An action performed without pressure, threat or duress.

Well founded
An application that is legitimate and based on fact.

Well-paid
Something that pays well.

Will
Legal document, which may be amended at any time, in which a person provides for the distribution of his or her property after death.

Will made in the presence of witnesses
Legal document, signed before two witnesses, in which a person provides for the distribution of his or her property after death and states that the document constitutes his or her will.

Witness
Person who is present at the signing of an official act and can attest to its accuracy.

Youth court
Court that hears cases involving children and teenagers, such as adoption cases.
SYNONYM Youth Division of the Court of Québec.

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