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

4. Decide whether to divide your pension

Because common-law partners don't automatically have to make an at the end of their relationship, they need to show why they have a right to a share of their partner’s property. This can be very hard.

If you agreed to share a pension in a , or have a or award that says you have a right to share in your partner's property, the may be able to divide the pension in different ways. 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 that paid to the plan member's partner is 50% of the value of the pension or monthly benefit.

Ontario regulated plans

For Ontario regulated plans, the option to ask the plan administrator to divide the pension 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.

Also, the option to divide a pension with a common-law partner only applies if the partners have a court order, arbitration award, or domestic contract and have:

  • lived together for at least 3 years, or
  • lived together and have a child together.

Federal public service plans or federally regulated plans

For a federally regulated plan, the option to divide a pension with a common-law partner only applies if the partners have lived together for at least one year.

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