Divorce & separation

Disclaimer: We make every effort to ensure that all information on this website is accurate and complete. Should any discrepancy exist, the Plan Documents, statutes, or regulations shall apply. 

Under the Family Law Act, pension benefits are considered family assets, and therefore are subject to division when a spousal relationship ends. 

The first step in dividing a pension is for the spouse to notify Pension Services that there is a potential claim on the pension.  This is done by filing a Form P1 with Pension Services.  In doing so, the spouse also becomes entitled to receive information on the pension benefits.  

It is highly recommended that members and spouses obtain independent legal advice before dividing a pension. Pension Services will require a number of documents in order to follow the requirements of the written agreement or court order.  Please refer to the Division of pension booklet and the Forms section of this website for more information. 

There are a number of rules on pension division:

  • Common-law spouses are entitled to the division of pension benefits (as per a court order or written agreement) and retain their right to claim a division of benefits for two years after separation.
  • If the member dies before retirement, the former spouse’s benefits are calculated as of the day before the death of the member, based on the proportionate share that was specified.
  • A member can assign more than 50% of the pension to the former spouse through an agreement.
  • A member can designate any beneficiary or estate for the unassigned portion of the pension, without the former spouse’s consent or approval.

If there is a spousal claim on your pension, your annual statements will continue to show the undivided benefit amounts until the spousal claim has been “discharged” (when your former spouse has begun receiving a benefit or transferred out of the plan).  Once a claim has been discharged, your account balance will be reduced accordingly.

If you have not yet retired, the deadline for division is based on the date you start receiving a pension benefit.  When you select a benefit, your former spouse will be notified and given 30 days to select an option.