Can CPP be shared on separation or divorce?
By default, yes, Canada Pension Plan credits that were accumulated during the time that you and your former spouse or common-law partner lived together can be split.
It works like this – each of you and your former spouse may have accumulated CPP credits during the time that you were employed and living together – in some years one spouse may have accumulated more credits, and in other years the other spouse may have accumulated more. When a couple separates, there’s an opportunity for spouses to have the credits you each accumulated during the years you lived together pooled together and split equally.
For example, for each year eligible for the split, if one of you earned $10,000 in pensionable earnings, and the other spouse earned $20,000 in pensionable earnings, the total is pooled together to equal $30,000, and split down the middle so that for that year each of you have $15,000 in pensionable earnings.
CPP will do this split for each eligible year, ending the year prior to your separation. So, if you separated in 2020, then the final year of your CPP split will be 2019.
There are many technical requirements – here’s a few – if you were separated after January 1, 1987 and want to split your CPP credits:
- You have to have lived together with your former spouse or common-law partner for more than 12 consecutive months
- You have to have been separated for more than 12 consecutive months
- If you’re unmarried living common-law, you have to apply within 48 months of being separated.
The rationale for splitting these CPP credits is that CPP is a form of pension, which is an asset in the context of a separation or divorce. Therefore, the splitting of these credits is in line with the splitting 50/50 of any other asset accumulated during the relationship.
Is it worth it to split Canada Pension Plan credits?
Whether it’s worth it or not to split your CPP credits with your former spouse or common-law partner will depend on the credits that each of you have accumulated during your relationship.
A credit split will benefit the spouse who accumulated less credits over the period of time that they lived together. Typically, this will be of most benefit to a spouse who stayed out of the workforce for a significant period of the relationship. The more pensionable earnings you have when you start receiving CPP, the more your CPP cheque will be.
I recommend that each of you and your former spouse or common-law partner get your Statement of Contributions directly from CPP. This is available online through your Service Canada account or by contacting CPP directly to have your statement mailed to you.
How do former spouses tell Canada Pension Plan to actually do the split?
There’s a form to be filled out, and supporting documentation to be sent in to the government.
If you do an online search for “CPP credit split divorce” the first hit is an info sheet from the Government of Canada which will give you all sorts of information on how the split works, and whether you’re eligible for it.
On that site, there’s a form called the ISP-1901 as well which can be submitted directly to the Government for the split to occur. The accompanying information sheet is ISP-1901A. Those 2 forms contain all the information you require to have the split be completed.
What if people don’t want to split their CPP credits with their former spouse? What are the options?
If you want to prevent your CPP credits from being split between you and your former spouse or common-law partner, it’s important that you deal with this by way of agreement between you and your ex.
There are some provinces in Canada that permit former spouses and common-law partners to waive their right to do the pool and split of CPP credits. As of the publish date of this post, the only provinces in Canada which permit this waiver are: Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia.
If you’re outside of these provinces, then there’s no legal authority to allow a waiver of the credit split. If you’re in any of these 3 provinces, if your don’t want to split their pension credits, then you can agree to waive the split.
The most important point, though, is that silence as to the CPP split issue means that the split may occur by default. If you want to prevent that, it has to be in writing.
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