Separation or divorce

Many people go through a breakdown in their marriage or common-law relationship during their working career. If this applies to you, it is important to keep in mind that your pension may represent a significant part of the family property you've built during your relationship with your former spouse.

Pension law and family law are complex, and they interact in a number of ways in the case of spousal relationship breakdown. As a result, it is strongly recommended to obtain advice from a lawyer with experience in this area before making any decisions regarding the division of your pension.

If your jurisdiction of employment is Ontario and you and your spouse/former spouse were married, Ontario law requires that the value of the pension you earned during your time together be included in the calculation of net family property. There is no requirement to divide the pension, only to consider its value in the division of all family property.

If your jurisdiction of employment is not Ontario, the Ontario Family Law Act does not apply to you. Contact the CAAT Pension Plan directly for more information.

Process to follow if your jurisdiction of employment is Ontario

For common-law spouses, there is no requirement under Ontario family law to divide net family property (including the value of any pension assets) on breakdown of their spousal relationship. You may however decide to do so.

In Ontario, the rules which apply to new cases as well as past cases without a pre-2012 legal agreement providing for the division of pension include:

  • Prescribed valuation performed by the Plan - The Plan is required to calculate the Family Law Value of a member’s pension accrued during the relationship, using prescribed formulae, and provide this to both the member and their spouse/former spouse. 
  • Immediate settlement of benefits - Where a member and their former spouse agree or are required to divide the value of the member’s pension, the spouse’s portion of the Family Law Value will be immediately split from the member’s entitlement. Though settled immediately, the former spouse’s share may be transferred to a locked-in account until retirement age.
  • Prescribed process and forms  -  Members, their former spouses and the Plan will be required to use several detailed forms created by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) throughout the process of applying for a valuation through to instructing the Plan on their decision about the division of the Family Law Value of the pension.

Click here to access the procedures and forms for requesting a pension valuation from the Plan.