Divorce or separation - Pension

In the event that your marriage or relationship of a conjugal nature breaks down, the following information outlines the potential consequences to your public service pension benefits.

You may want to know…

  • Whom should you inform in the event of your separation or divorce?

    You should inform the Government of Canada Pension Centre (Pension Centre) in the event of a Separation or Divorce. Please send copies of the following documents:

    • If you are separated – the separation papers;
    • If you are divorced – the divorce decree absolute;
    • If you are no longer in a common-law relationship – a letter advising the Pension Centre that the relationship has ended and providing the date.

    Please include your pension number on all documents. If you don't know your pension number, include your Personal Record Identifier (PRI) instead.

  • Can your pension benefits be divided in the event of divorce or separation?

    Yes. The Pension Benefits Division Act provides for the division of the pension benefits that you have accumulated under the public service pension plan in the event of your marriage or common-law relationship breakdown.

  • Who is eligible for a division of pension benefits?

    You or your spouse/common-law partner may apply after you have been separated for at least one year. However, if the application is based on a Court Order pertaining to divorce, annulment or separation, then the one-year separation requirement does not apply.

    In the case of a common-law relationship, an application may be made only if your relationship lasted a minimum of one year.

    In either case, you must have a Court Order or written agreement signed by you and your spouse that provides for the division of your pension benefits.

  • What steps are involved in obtaining a division of pension benefits?

    Either you or your former spouse/common-law partner may apply for a pension benefits division.

  • How does a pension division affect your pension?

    When you are in receipt of a pension, your pension will be reduced immediately upon completion of the division.

  • How are your survivor benefits affected?

    If at the time of your death you were divorced, your former spouse will not be entitled to a survivor benefit.

    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, will not be entitled to a survivor benefit.

    If at the time of your death you were separated from your legal spouse but not divorced, your spouse would be entitled to a survivor benefit. However, if you were separated from your legal spouse and your former spouse had applied for a division of pension benefits, your legal spouse would only be entitled to a survivor benefit in respect of the portion not covered by the division.

    For more information, consult the Survivor Benefits section.

  • How is your Supplementary Death Benefit Plan (SDB) affected?

    There is no impact for Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB) purposes. However, your former spouse will still be entitled to receive your SDB benefit if you have named this person as your beneficiary.

    To designate a new beneficiary, you must complete a new Naming or Substitution of a Beneficiary form.

  • Does your Will affect who receives your Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB)?

    Wills, Agreements and Court Orders do not affect who receives your Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB). The person you named as your beneficiary for the SDB Plan receives your death benefit.

    You can only name one beneficiary under this plan. If you wish to divide your death benefit among two or more people, you must name your estate as the beneficiary. You may then specify in your Will how it should be divided.

    If you wish to cancel a previous designation without naming a person or an organization (religious, educational, charitable or benevolent), you must also name your estate as your beneficiary.

  • If you don't remember whom you named as the beneficiary of your Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB), how do you find out who it is?

    For information about your beneficiary, please write or call the Government of Canada Pension Centre. Please note that the Pension Centre will ask you for your pension number or Personal Record Identifier (PRI).

  • Should you inform the Pension Centre if the person you've named as the beneficiary of your Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB) moves?

    Yes, you should notify the Government of Canada Pension Centre when your beneficiary moves. In the event of your death, if the Pension Centre has a current address for your beneficiary, the benefit can be paid more quickly.

    When you contact the Pension Centre, please have the following:

    • Pension number or Personal Record Identifier (PRI);
    • Name of beneficiary;
    • Your beneficiary's new address.

Visit Public service group insurance benefit plans for information on benefits.

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