4. Decide whether to divide your pension

We're married. What happens to our pensions if we separate or divorce?
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4. Decide whether to divide your pension

If one partner owes the other an equalization payment, you may be able to divide a pension to make that payment.

You don't have to agree to divide your pension directly. You might decide instead that one partner makes the equalization payment with money from somewhere else. For example, you and your partner could sell your matrimonial home and pay equalization out of the sale money.

The pension plan administrator may be able to divide the pension in different ways to make part or all of the equalization payment. For example, it may be able to make:

  • a one-time payment,
  • monthly payments, or
  • adding to a separate pension or fund that is like a pension for the partner that isn't a pension plan member

The options for dividing the pension depend on if the pension member started receiving the pension payments, usually because they retired, before you separated.

In general, the maximum amount of the pension paid to the plan member's partner is 50% of the value of the pension or monthly benefit.

For Ontario regulated plans, the option to divide the pension directly is only available if you have a court order, arbitration award, or domestic contract that deals with your pension that is dated after January 1, 2012. Before this date, you could only divide the pension after the plan member retired, died, or reached the normal retirement age to access their pension.

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Reviewed: July 31, 2017

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