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Private pensions are a valuable component of retirement planning for many Canadians as they offer predictable income and financial security beyond the Canada Pension Plan CPP. In Ontario, private pensions hold significant value, making them complex assets to handle during divorce or separation proceedings. Here are some commonly asked questions from our clients during separation or divorce proceedings in Ontario.

How Are Private Pension Values Calculated During Separation or Divorce Proceedings in Ontario?

The Pension Benefits Act is a piece of legislation enacted in Ontario, Canada, that governs the administration, funding, and operation of pension plans within the province. Its primary objective is to protect the rights and interests of plan members and beneficiaries, ensuring that they receive the benefits they are entitled to upon retirement or other qualifying events. During separation or divorce proceedings, Ontario-regulated pensions provide a specific formula for calculating the Family Law Value . This essentially represents the portion of the pension accrued during the marriage. For federal pensions, things can be more complex. For these types of pensions, couples must retain an actuary to provide valuation. A family law lawyer can assist with this process.

What is a Statement of Family Law Value?

A Statement of Family Law Value (FLV) is a document created by a pension plan administrator in Ontario that details the estimated value of pension plan members pension benefits that accrued during the period of their spousal relationship. This information is crucial during separation or divorce proceedings as it helps determine how much of the pension value might be divided between the spouses. The statement will also include things like the members name and their plan membership details, the date of the valuation, the type of pension plan, the calculated FLV as well as additional information relevant to the specific pension plan such as credited service information or assumptions used in the valuation. The FLV also serves as a starting point for negotiations between spouses and their lawyers regarding the division of pension assets during a separation or divorce. It is important to note that the FLV is not a binding amount as it does not automatically entitle one spouse to a specific share of the pension

Am I Entitled to Half My Spouse’s/Partner’s CPP if We Are Separated?

In most cases, you may be entitled to half of the value of the CPP accrued from the start of your marriage or the commencement of your cohabitation date. However, the entitlement is treated as a credit (not cash) and both spouses must apply for the credit split as it’s not automatically granted.

What Are Settlement Instruments?

In the context of pension division during divorce, settlement instruments are legal documents that formalize the agreement between spouses on how to split the value of a pension plan They are key to implementing the division and ensuring both parties understand their rights and obligations. We recommend you consult with a family law lawyer when preparing settlement instruments to best protect your interests and also to ensure they conform to legal requirements.

What is a Plan Administrator?

A plan administrator is a person or entity responsible for the day-to-day management and administration of a pension plan. They act as a trustee ensuring the plan operates in accordance with its governing documents and applicable laws and regulations. Some of the core duties of a plan administrator include things like managing plan contributions, processing benefit payments, communicating with members, complying with regulations, maintaining accurate records and managing plan documents.

Book a Consultation With Our Toronto Divorce Lawyers

At Gelman & Associates we have over 20 years of experience handling separation and divorce proceedings that require a review of private pensions. Contact our family lawyers today for legal assistance in these types of situations. With offices across Ontario, we are pleased to help you.

Disclaimer: Please note the content in this article is intended to act as a general overview on a legal topic and does not constitute legal advice as each situation is unique. Please consult with a family lawyer for specific legal advice on your matter.


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