People work hard to establish a solid pension. In the event of divorce, however, family law in Ontario has certain rules when it comes to the sharing of those pension funds. When it comes to federal pension plan funds, much depends on whether the couple was married or in a common law union. Common law couples can apply to have Canada Pension Plan (CPP) funds divided as long as the couple had been living together for at least a year.
Married couples actually have the right to share pensions, unlike their common law counterparts. In a common law relationship, the holder of the pension fund usually gets to keep those funds in the event of separation. If there is a cohabitation agreement in existence, that may not hold true. If such an agreement makes mention of pension funds or if one partner has a court order or if the matter has gone through arbitration with the decision that pension funds should be shared, then by law, they must be.
If a common law couple agrees to share a pension, only the plan member can ask the his or her pension be valued. In Ontario, pension plans are regulated. If a person has been receiving a provincial pension prior to Jan. 1, 2012, he or she would have to hire an actuary to have the pension valued. Those receiving a pension after that date must use a government form asking for an administrator to value the pension unless of course a cohabitation agreement, court order or arbitration award exists.
There are areas under the family law umbrella in Ontario that can be a little confusing. A lawyer can bring clarity to those areas. Common law couples don't always have the same rules as married couples. A lawyer is able to explain those differences to his or her clients.