OSPC - FAQS - Overview of Manitoba Pension Laws

Breakdown of a Relationship

  1. If my spouse or common-law partner and I are separated is he/she entitled to any of my pension benefits?

    Where there is:

    • a court order under The Family Property Act or
    • a written agreement between you and your spouse or common-law partner about the division of family assets or
    • a division is required by an order of a court of another Canadian jurisdiction

    the act requires that the pension benefits must be divided equally.

    However, this only applies if the pension assets were accrued:

    • in a common-law relationship from the first day of the period in which the parties began living together in a conjugal relationship that continued until they became common-law partners or
    • in a marriage from the date of marriage or
    • in a marriage where the parties first lived together in a conjugal relationship that continued until they were married from the first day of that period until the date that the couple began living separate and apart.

    For spouses who began living separate and apart before June 30, 2004, the pension benefits that must be divided are the benefits accrued from the date of the marriage.

  2. Will this law affect people who applied for a separation or divorce before January 1, 1984?

    No. This law only applies to people who separated on or after January 1, 1984. Relationships that ended before then are not subject to division under this law.

  3. Is there any way to avoid the mandatory 50/50 credit split when a relationship breaks down?

    You and your spouse or common-law partner may agree to waive the equal split of pension benefits. The act states that if both parties agree, they can avoid the mandatory 50/50 split, but only if both people:

    • receive independent legal advice
    • receive a statement from the pension plan administrator providing information required under the act, such as the amount of entitlement and options and
    • sign a written agreement with their spouse or partner.
  4. What if only one of us wants to waive the 50/50 split?

    Where the two spouses or partners cannot agree on this, the mandatory 50/50 split of pension benefits must be applied.

  5. May I waive my entitlement if my spouse or partner has died?

    As a spouse or common-lay partner, who is entitled to a division at the death of your spouse or partner, you may waive your entitlement. You cannot do this until the plan administrator provides the information required under the act and you sign an approved form.

  6. Can pension benefits be received as a cash refund?

    Except for voluntary and optional ancillary (secondary) contributions, the pension split is locked in and may only be transferred to a:

    • Locked in Retirement Account (LIRA)
    • Life Income Fund (LIF) or
    • registered pension plan, if the spouse or common-law partner is a member, and only if the plan administrator will accept the transfer and administer the provisions of the act.

  7. Can we choose to split the difference?

    If both of you belong to pension plans, you can agree, in writing, to equally divide the difference in the two pensions benefits, rather than dividing both pensions on a 50/50 basis.

    For example: You can transfer one-half of the net difference in the two pension benefits.

    Division of net difference:

    $70,000-$40,000 = $30,000
    $30,000/2 = $15,000* (This is the net difference.)
    Mrs. X= $70,000 - $15,000 = $55,000
    Mr. X = $40,000 + $15,000 = $55,000

    * This amount is transferred from Mrs. X's plan to Mr. X's plan, which equalizes the pension benefits earned during the marriage or common-law relationship.

  8. Can a pension be paid as two separate pensions?

    A joint or survivor form of pension pays a pension to the retiree for his/her lifetime and, after death, to the spouse or common-law partner for his/her lifetime. If your pension plan allows, the form of pension may be changed to two separate, life-only pensions. This will permit you, as the retiree, to receive a pension that is payable for your lifetime. Your spouse or partner will also receive a pension that is payable for his/her lifetime only. This option to change the form of pension only applies where you were receiving a joint and survivor form of pension.

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