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 your former 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, your former spouse also becomes entitled to receive information on the pension benefits.  

Pension Services will require a number of documents (see below) in order to follow the requirements of a written agreement or court order.   It is highly recommended that members and spouses obtain independent legal advice before dividing a pension. 

If you are already receiving a pension

Your former spouse may become a limited member and be entitled to a share of your pension. In this case, your former spouse is bound by the options you selected at retirement (regarding survivor benefits, for example) and is not eligible to receive a separate commuted value.  

To divide a pension in this way, please submit Form P2 and the separation agreement or court order.  Please also refer to the Forms section of this website for more information. 

If you are not yet receiving a pension

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

1. Commuted value option

As soon as you reach 55 years of age or leave UVic (whichever comes first), your former spouse’s share can be transferred to a locked-in retirement account (LIRA), a life income fund (LIF), or an insurance company to provide a life annuity.

If you choose to transfer funds upon leaving UVic, your former spouse must do the same.  Please refer to the Leaving UVic section of this website for more information on the commuted value option.

2. Separate pension option

Your former spouse may elect to become a limited member and receive a separate monthly pension after you reach 55 years of age, or when you retire. At that time, your former spouse’s pension would be based on their share of your total pension.

Please refer to the Forms section of this website for more information. 

Pension division rules and fees

 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.

The current fee to divide a pension is $750.

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

Forms and Documents required

Claim and request for information and notice (Form P1)

This form is used by a former spouse who is making a claim against the member's benefits. After this form is delivered to the Pension Services, the former spouse is entitled to receive:

  • information from the administrator/annuity issuer about the benefits
  • 30 days' advance notice of changes of circumstances affecting the benefits

If you decide not to divide the pension, Form P1 and a marriage certificate will also permit the plan to provide you with information that will allow an actuary to calculate its value so you can negotiate a settlement with other family assets.

Agreement to have benefits divided under Part 6 (Form P9), separation agreement, or court order

The form P9 is used in lieu of a formal agreement or court order.

The separation agreement or court order must provide clear direction on how the pension is to be divided. The following information MUST be included:

  • the name of the pension plan to be divided (University of Victoria Staff Pension Plan).

  • the day, month and year of the entitlement period.

  • the method to be used to divide the pension (e.g., 50% of the pension during the entitlement period, or any other agreed-to portion

Request for designation as Limited Member (Form P2)

This form is used any time a former spouse's share of the benefits remains in the plan to be administered. The former spouse becomes a "limited member" and is entitled to receive a proportionate share of the member's benefits.

Request by Limited Member for transfer or separate pension (Form P4)

This form is used by a limited member to choose how to receive a share of benefits under a defined benefit provision if the member is not yet receiving a pension.

Withdrawal of notice/Waiver of claim (Form P7)

This form is used if a former spouse decides to withdraw a notice or other document previously delivered, or to relinquish a claim to the benefits. A notice cannot be withdrawn once the benefit division arrangements are completed.

Change of information (Form P8)

This form is used to update a former spouse's contact information.