Divorce or separation – Retired members – 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?
- 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 Government of Canada 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.
- Step 1: Request information on pension benefits division.
Before you submit your request for an estimate, consult Request for Estimate for more information on the number of estimates you can receive per period of 12 months and which documents and forms are required.
If you want an estimate of the division amount before you apply for a division, you must submit the Request for Pension Benefits Division Information (PWGSC-TPSGC 2488) form, along with any other required documents.
- Step 2: Apply for pension benefits division.
You must submit the Application for Division of a Public Service Superannuation Act Pension Benefits in Accordance with the Pension Benefits Division Act (PWGSC-TPSGC 2486) form, along with your Court Order or written agreement, and any other required documents.
- Step 3: Division of pension benefits.
Once the division is approved, the amount representing the value of the pension benefit earned during the period subject to division is transferred into a chosen registered retirement savings account(s).
These steps are described in further detail in the Division of Pension Benefits Package. Additional information is found under the Pension Benefits Division Act and the Pension Benefits Division Regulations.
- Step 1: Request information on pension benefits division.
How does a pension division affect your pension?
If 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.
However, 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.
Can your pension benefit be diverted for spousal or child support?
Yes. Part II of the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act (GAPDA) permits pension benefits payable to public service plan members to be diverted to applicants possessing a valid financial support court order. The applicant must send the original or certified true copy of the court order along with the completed Application for Diversion from a Public Service Pension in Accordance with Part II of the "Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act" (PWGSC – TPSGC 2460) to the address indicated on the application.
If your salary was being garnished while you were employed, will the garnishment continue if you become entitled to a pension benefit?
A new application under Part II of the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act (GAPDA) provisions must be submitted for your pension benefits to be diverted, even if your salary was subject to continuing garnishment. The applicant is responsible for completing and forwarding a new application with the original or certified true copy of the court order to the address indicated on the application order, in order for the financial support to continue.
How can your pension diversion amount be amended or stopped?
The pension diversion amount can be amended or stopped with an amended court order.
How is your Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB) affected?
There is no impact for Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB) purposes. However, your former spouse will still be entitled to receive your SDB 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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