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We're not married. What happens to our pensions if we separate?

We're not married. What happens to our pensions if we separate?


Clear language definitions to common legal terms. 

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July, 2017

A pension is a plan that pays its members after they retire. Sometimes a pension also pays after a member is fired or laid off, becomes disabled, or dies.

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is a special type of pension. You can apply to divide CPP credits that you and your common-law partner earned during your relationship if you lived together for at least one year.

For other types of pensions, partners in a common-law relationship do not automatically have a right to share in the value of each other's pensions. This is not true for married partners, who have different rights.

When common-law partners separate, the pension plan member usually keeps the full value of the pension.

They only have to share in the value of their pension if they have an agreement, court order, or arbitration award that says they have to share it. A court or arbitrator will only say that a pension needs to be shared in limited situations since common-law partners don’t usually share property.

Learn more about this topic
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
National Association of Women and the Law
Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) / Commission des services financiers de l'Ontario (CSFO)

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