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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 5, March 2005

Dividing the pension when a spousal relationship ends

The law considers a pension to be matrimonial property, just like a house, a car, or another asset. When a marriage or spousal relationship ends, the pension belongs to both the former spouse and the pension-plan member, and they may choose to divide the pension. Both parties should consider obtaining legal advice about dividing matrimonial property. The BCTF and the pension plan cannot provide advice about dividing pensions. The Family Relations Act is the provincial law that governs how family assets are divided on marital and spousal relationship breakdown.

The pension is divided according to the terms of the court order or separation agreement. If the court order does not provide specific dates for dividing the pension, it is divided using the formula set out in the regulations of the Family Relations Act. The formula is based in part on how long the pension-plan member and the former spouse were married or living together, and how long the pension-plan member contributed to the pension plan while the two people were spouses. The Family Relations Act allows the plan member and the former spouse to decide on a different proportionate division than that specified in the legislation. That must be done in accordance with the provisions of the Family Relations Act.

When the pension-plan member has a court order or a separation agreement, she or he should register it with the Teachers’ Pension Plan. That provides the plan with the instructions on how to divide the pension at retirement. For more detailed information, review the "Publications" on the Teachers’ Pension Plan web site.

Definition of spouse
For the Teachers’ Pension plan, spouse means:

  • the person you are legally married to and, for the two-year period immediately before the relevant time, were not living separate from; or, if this does not apply,
  • the person, of the same or opposite sex, who has lived with you in a marriagelike relationship for the two-year period immediately before the relevant time.

Contact the pension plan at: Teachers’ Pension Plan, PO Box 9460, Victoria BC V8W 9V8 Phone: Victoria 250-953-3022, Vancouver 604-660-4088, Toll-free 1-800-665-6770, Fax: 250-356-8977, E-mail: TPP@pensionsbc.ca Web site: pensionsbc.ca, then select Teachers’

Source: Extracts from the Teachers’ Pension Plan Pensionfacts: Dividing a pension when a spousal relationship ends.

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