Divorce or separation—Reservists in the Regular Force Pension Plan
In the event that your marriage or common-law relationship ends, it is important to understand the possible impact on your pension and insurance benefits plans.
You may want to know
Whom should I inform in the event of my separation or divorce?
Submit copies of your separation agreement or divorce decree to the Government of Canada Pension Centre. If your common-law relationship has ended, send the Government of Canada Pension Centre a letter providing them with the information.
You may also want to review and update your beneficiary designation under the Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB) plan if you are a Reservist on Class "C" service.
Include your Service Number (SN) or your Pension Number, on all documents you send to the Government of Canada Pension Centre.
Is my former spouse or former common-law partner eligible for part of my pension?
Your former spouse or former common-law partner is eligible for part of your Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) pension only if a Canadian court order or written separation agreement between you and your former spouse or former common-law partner calls for a division of your CAF Pensions benefit.
The pension benefits accumulated during your marriage or common-law relationship may be divided when the relationship ends. This is done according to the terms of the Pension Benefits Division Act (PBDA). This does not mean that you must divide your pension benefit. What happens will depend on your personal situation. For example, if your former spouse or former common-law partner has a pension of similar value or other assets that balance out your pension, your pension may not be affected at all.
Eligible former spouses and former common-law partners include:
- spouses who have divorced, or spouses who have been living separately and apart for at least one year and
- common-law partners (same sex or opposite sex) who have lived in a common-law relationship for a minimum of one year and who have been living separately and apart for at least one year
What steps do I take to have my pension divided?
Estimate the value
You or your former spouse or former common-law partner must obtain an estimate of his or her entitlement by completing the Request for Pension Benefits Division Information with respect to a Canadian Forces Superannuation Act Pension in Accordance with the Pension Benefits Division Act (CF-FC 2488) form and sending it to the Government of Canada Pension Centre. The Government of Canada Pension Centre will prepare a PBDA Pension Benefits Report, advising you of the estimated division amount. Only you will receive information regarding the amount of your benefit reduction.
Apply for the division of pension benefits
In order for a division under the PBDA to occur, the parties involved must either be divorced or separated for at least one year, and a Canadian court order must be issued stating that the pension is to be divided.
If there is a Canadian court order or a written agreement between you and your former spouse or former common-law partner that clearly states how to divide your pension, either of you may apply for a division by completing the Application for Division of Pension of a Canadian Forces Superannuation Act Pension Benefits in Accordance with the Pension Benefits Division Act (CF-FC 2486) form.
If the exact dates (dd/mm/yyyy) of the co-habitation period are not specified in the order or agreement, you must also complete and return the Statutory Declaration in the matter of an application of Pension Division Benefits (CF-FC 2484) form.
Send your application and statutory declaration to the Government of Canada Pension Centre, accompanied by either an original or a certified copy of:
- the Canadian court order or
- the written spousal agreement
The agreement or court order must clearly state how to divide your pension. The resulting pension division - your reduction and your former spouse's or former common-law partner's benefit – is based on the agreement or court order.
These steps are described in further detail in the Division of pension benefits package.
Contact the Government of Canada Pension Centre if you have questions about the division of your pension.
What happens if the division is approved?
If the division is approved, a lump-sum payment representing the spousal share of the value of the benefits subject to division will be transferred to either a locked-in retirement savings vehicle or to a financial institution for the purchase of a life annuity as chosen by your former partner. The reduction cannot be greater than 50% of your pension.
For more information about what happens when the division is approved, visit the Division of pension benefits package.
What happens to my pension after the division?
After the request to divide your pension has been approved, it will be reduced to reflect the division. The reduction of your pension is for life and you cannot buy back the portion of the pension that was paid out.
Can I object to the division?
Yes. You will be notified of any application made to divide your benefits, after which you can file an objection with the Minister of National Defence within 90 days of the notice of application being sent out. Please note that the grounds for objection are very specific. You may object if:
- The court order or spousal agreement has been changed or is no longer valid
- The terms of the court order or spousal agreement have been satisfied, or are being satisfied, by some other means or
- The court order has been appealed or the terms of the spousal agreement are being challenged in court
Can I refuse to divide my pension?
If a Canadian court orders the division, your pension must be divided in accordance with the Pension Benefits Division Act (PBDA).
Is there a limit to how much my former spouse or former common-law partner can receive?
Yes. Your former spouse or former common-law partner cannot receive more than 50% of the total value of your pension benefit.
How are survivor benefits affected?
If at the time of your death you were divorced, your former spouse will not be entitled to a survivor benefit.
However, if at the time of your death you were separated from your legal spouse but not divorced, your spouse would be entitled to Survivor Benefits. If, on the other hand, you were separated from your legal spouse and he or she had applied for a division of pension benefits, your former spouse would only be entitled to a survivor benefit in respect of that portion not subject to division.
If at the time of your death you were separated from your common-law partner, that partner's entitlement to a survivor benefit ends immediately upon separation and therefore, he or she will not be entitled to a survivor benefit.
Can my former spouse or former common-law partner choose to receive a Canadian Armed Forces pension?
No. Your former spouse or former common-law partner must transfer the lump-sum value of the divided pension benefit to either a locked-in retirement plan or a financial institution to purchase a pension. If you have fewer than 2 years of pensionable service at the time of the division, your former spouse or former common-law partner may transfer the lump sum to a regular Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP).
How is your Supplementary Death Benefit plan affected?
Reservists on Class "C" service participate in the Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB) plan for the duration of their Class "C" service. Former members of the Regular Force who elected to continue as participants in the SDB plan on release remain participants even if they go on to serve in the Reserve Force under any class of service.
In the event that your marriage or common-law relationship ends, your Supplementary Death Benefits (SDB) are not affected. However, your former spouse or common-law partner will still be entitled to receive the SDB benefit if you have named that person as your beneficiary.
To designate a new beneficiary, you must complete a new Naming or Substitution of a Beneficiary (CF-FC 2196) form.
Is my buy-back included in the estimate of the value of my pension?
Any prior service that you bought back during your spousal or common-law relationship is proportionally included in the value of the pension.
How are my insurance benefit plans affected?
Once you become divorced, your former spouse is no longer eligible for benefits under the following plans:
- Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP)
- Public Service Dental Care Plan (PSDCP)
In the event there is a change in your relationship status such as a divorce or separation, you may wish to consider changing your Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) coverage from Family to Single if there are no other dependants for whom PSHCP benefits are being provided. Please note that it is your responsibility to inform the Government of Canada Pension Centre if you become divorced or separated and would like to change your health or dental care plan coverage.
While the finalization of a divorce results in the automatic ineligibility of PSHCP claim payments on behalf of the divorced spouse, PSHCP benefits can continue if you are separated from your spouse or common-law partner.
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