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Is my pension considered legal property during a divorce?

Pension Family Law

Is my pension considered legal property during a divorce?

To start, PENSIONS ARE CONSIDERED PROPERTY under the Ontario Family Law Act and is valued in accordance with the Pension Benefits Act.

Family Law in Ontario provides that each spouse is automatically entitled to a share of the spouse’s pension, as it is considered part of the family assets that are to be equalized upon separation or divorce.

How does a pension get split in a divorce?

There are detailed rules on how that post-split division is calculated. This is where it gets a little complicated.

Assuming one of the spouses is a member of an Ontario pension plan, those rules apply mainly to married spouses who separated on or after January 1, 2012, or who separated prior to that date but had not yet resolved their property issues by then.

These rules can also apply to unmarried spouses, but only by agreement.


1) The “Preliminary Value” of a pension is the total value that the pension-holder earned while he or she was a member of a pension plan, up until the marital separation date.

2) The “Family Law Value” (sometimes called the “Imputed Value”) is that pro-rated portion of the Preliminary Value that was earned during the period of the pension-holder’s marriage to the other spouse (and if the spouses agree, any period of cohabitation can also be included in this amount).

Once the Family Law Value has been calculated, it forms part of the calculation for determining the pension-holding spouse’s Net Family Property for equalization purposes

Different Approaches

The correct approach to valuing a pension will differ according to the type of pension.

Defined Contribution Pension – The Preliminary Value is calculated by taking the value at date of marriage and deducting it from the value at the date of separation.

Defined Benefit Pension – If the pension-holding spouse is not eligible for an unreduced pension on the separation date – the Preliminary Value of his or her pension is calculated through a complicated formula that incorporates various retirement dates.  There is a different formula applied if the pension-holding spouse is already eligible for an unreduced pension on the separation date.

Note! that the pension division is actually optional, but only in that the pension-holding spouse can buy out his or her spouse’s interest in it, using other assets.


Saudi Man Divorces Brides Minutes After Wedding



A Saudi bride was divorced shortly after the marriage ceremony when she ignored her groom and kept chatting with her friends on her mobile.

“Following the marriage ceremony, the groom took his bride to the hotel where they had booked a room,” a relative said. “However, as soon as the bride was in the room, she kept using her mobile. Her groom tried to get closer with her and become more intimate, but he was shocked when she ignored him, not responding to his words and action. When he asked her about the reasons, she answered she was busy communicating with her friends who were congratulating her on her marriage on the mobile. The groom asked her to delay the messages, but she refused and became angry. When he asked her if her friends were more important than he was, the bride answered that they were,” the relative said, quoted by Saudi daily Al Watan on Tuesday.

As the argument between them became unexpectedly heated, the groom told his bride he was divorcing her and left the hotel.

The relative said that a divorce case was filed and the court referred it to the reconciliation committee to assess if the newly-weds could be reconciled, the relative added.

However, the groom, too hurt in his pride to forgive, refused to withdraw the case and insisted on the divorce.

A Saudi legal expert warned against the alarmingly growing figures of divorce among newly-weds, saying that they reached around 50 per cent.

“Misunderstandings, differences in views and the easy approach to marriage without a deep appreciation of the responsibilities are among the major causes for divorce among young people,” Ahmad Al Maabi told the daily. “Marriages are bound to fail when there are no robust foundations or trust.”

How long does it take to get a divorce?

Divorce Application

In Ontario, a divorce can take 30 days to over a year depending on your situation.

The quickest way to obtain a divorce is to file a Joint Application in which both parties agree to all the issues. You can then file your Affidavit of Divorce along with your marriage certificate.

There are three heads under which individuals can seek divorce:

  1. Parties have been separated for 12 months;
  2. Adultery;
  3. Cruelty.

Depending on how quickly your documents are prepared and filed and the number of cases being handled by the Court in your area it can take 30 days to over a year. In most cases we have seen a Divorce Order be granted within 4-6 months of filing all the outstanding documents.

What is the difference between a simple divorce and a joint divorce?


A divorce application may be started by filing an application for divorce with their spouse as a respondent or a joint application.

A simple divorce can be the most inexpensive avenue to obtain a divorce Order. You can get a divorce by proving that your marriage is over. You can prove this by showing that you have been separated for a year, or that your husband or wife has had a sexual relationship with another person, or that your husband or wife has been physically or mentally cruel to you. In this application you will name your spouse as the respondent. If your spouse does not respond to the application within the prescribed time, they lose the opportunity to respond at all unless they bring a motion asking for the Courts permission to do the same. If your spouse fails to respond, the divorce effectively becomes uncontested. Which means you may file your Affidavit for Divorce and seek a divorce Order.

Alternatively you and your spouse can agree to file a joint divorce in which you agree to all the issues (which can be through a separation agreement) and advise the Court of your intention to divorce. This can be the quickest method of divorce. You may file the Affidavit for Divorce with the application.

Family Law – Which Court do I apply to?


In Ontario, family law matters are dealt with in separate courts. Each avenue has its benefits and drawbacks.

You must apply to the Superior Court of Justice if you want to do the following:

  1. Apply for a simple divorce;
  2. Ask for custody, access or support as part of the divorce;
  3. Equalization and division of family property.

You can apply to the Ontario Court of Justice if you want to do the following:

  1. Spousal support;
  2. Custody or access to children.

This Court also hears adoption and child protections matters.

You and your spouse can also resolve matters and issues between each other through private settlement, negotiation, collaborative family law, mediation or arbitration instead of going to Court.

Here at Law Booth we believe in the collaborative approach to family law matters. If you want a Separation Agreement drafted, feel free to call us.