Dear Readers:

August is that month when we are either just leaving for or just returning from holidays.  Some of you are not necessarily in the mood to be serious; others are already panicking about back to school and work preparations.

So, in order to keep this month’s column on the light side, I decided to broach a topic which can easily be read on the bus, on the throne or between chores.

I recently attended a wedding of the daughter of long time colleagues and I have to say that while I would like to buy into that “happily ever after” enthusiasm, I remain sceptical about any couple’s future longevity, particularly when the Officiant starts reading Articles 392-396 from the Civil Code of Quebec…BORING.

Before I get into that however, I must share with you the pre-officiating ceremony, which has to have been the best all around entertainment of any wedding fiesta I have ever had the pleasure to attend.

This was due to the couple presiding the “warm-up”– Jonathan Silverman of “Weekend at Bernie’s” (1&2) fame and his lovely wife, and an actress herself, not to mention the Bride’s best friend, Jennifer Finnegan, who literally flew in the day before from Israel via Turkey, literally escaping the war zone where she has been filming a TV series.

Mr. Silverman brought much gaiety and knowledge to the proceedings by incorporating rituals from other countries into his smooth delivery.  These included the Bride and Groom holding a horseshoe for luck, drinking shots of grappa (the Bride’s grimace upon swallowing hopefully was caught on camera) and breaking, jointly & simultaneously, a glass.  Apparently, the more pieces there are, the longer the union will last (but I noted no one volunteered to open the velvet bag to count the pieces—legal liability issue I gather).

And no rendition of this event would be complete without also mentioning “Rabbi” (his father is actually one I was told) Silverman’s throwing of his wife’s shoe, worn at their wedding in Greece, over the Bride’s head! She ducked—another liability issue no doubt.  Turns out the Bride officiated their wedding, and Jennifer wrote the names of all her then single female friends on the soles of those shoes, which coincidentally included the Bride’s name – which I guess can now be crossed off so it can be thrown, at some later date, during someone else’s wedding, over another Bride, meaning Jennifer doesn’t ever get to wear these shoes again lest the names be worn off.

And now, back to our Civil Code.  Unfortunately the Legislator obliges Officiants to read – at the wedding – the Articles mentioned above, because God forbid the couple would have (before D-Day!) done half the research into their legal obligation towards each other as they most surely did regarding the venue and the caterer for their wedding.

So the Officiant reads to the happy couples Articles 392-396, reproduced here for your convenience. What is the couple to do then? Say excuse-me; I need to call my lawyer for an opinion on this?  What should be read – beforehand – are those Articles covering the consequences of the breakdown of the union/marriage and the obligations of support and parental authority – Articles 507-521 and Articles 585-612.  Of course it would make for a much longer ceremony, but a much more knowledgeable one.  No matter since “ignorance is bliss” they say—‘till you have to consult a Divorce Attorney.

Linda Hammerschmid




Art. 392         The spouses have the same rights and obligations in marriage. They owe each other respect, fidelity, succour and assistance. They are bound to live together.

Art. 393          In marriage, both spouses retain their respective names, and exercise their respective civil rights under those names.

 Art. 394          The spouses together take in hand the moral and material direction of the family, exercise parental authority and assume the tasks resulting therefrom.

 Art. 395          The spouses choose the family residence together.

In the absence of an express choice, the family residence is presumed to be the residence where the members of the family live while carrying on their principal activities.

Art. 396          The spouses contribute towards the expenses of the marriage in proportion to their respective means.

The spouses may make their respective contributions by their activities within the home.

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