Communauté des biens

Communauté des biens (community of property), term used in the legal codes of NEW FRANCE and Québec to describe the pooled assets of husband and wife. It began as part of the Coutume de Paris, introduced about 1640 and the sole legal code of the colony after 1664. The codes stipulated that all but the inherited immovable goods (essentially land and annuities) of the partners entered into this arrangement; that within certain limits the husband would be free to manage the communauté according to his rights; and that upon the death of one spouse, the survivor would receive half the communauté - debts and all - and the children the other half. Communauté des biens survived more than 3 centuries of social mutation; only in 1980 did the concept pass out of use. The Québec CIVIL CODE now refers to a société des acquêts, or "partnership of acquests" in which acquests are properties acquired by means other than inheritance.