This information applies if a Plan member's court order, family arbitration award or domestic contract was signed or executed prior to January 1, 2012. (A separation agreement is a form of domestic contract.)
"Former spouse" refers to the non-member spouse whether or not the separation/divorce is officially complete. "Parties" refers to the member and the former spouse.
A member's former spouse cannot receive a settlement from the Plan until the member's date of termination of employment, retirement date or the date of the member's death.
Marriage Breakdown Documents
For OMERS to administer a division of a member's pension benefit, OMERS must have the marriage breakdown document on file. This refers to a court order, family arbitration award or domestic contract (e.g., a separation agreement). Clear wording in these documents is very important as it will impact OMERS ability to administer the pension division.
OMERS Administrative Process
OMERS will examine the applicable marriage breakdown document and administer its terms according to the applicable legislation and the Plan text.
The document should have clear directions for OMERS to divide the pension benefit, and if applicable, under a variety of circumstances (the member's termination of employment or retirement, or the death of either party).
If the document lacks detail, or suggests that OMERS must act in a manner that would not comply with governing legislation and/or the Plan text, OMERS will not be able to administer a pension division. For example, the marriage breakdown document cannot require OMERS to consider the former spouse as the spouse who will receive survivor benefits if the former spouse does not meet the eligibility criteria for survivor benefits under the Plan.
If the applicable document provides clear instructions that are possible for OMERS to administer, OMERS can pay a benefit to a member's former spouse once the benefit becomes available to the member (that is, upon termination of employment, retirement, or the member's death). Again, the language must be clear enough for OMERS to do so.
It is not possible to divide a pension benefit while the member remains active in the OMERS Plan.
OMERS can pay to the former spouse a maximum of 50% of the pension benefit accrued by the member under the defined benefit provision of the Plan during the spousal period. This does not include any salary or plan improvements that occur after the marriage breakdown.
If OMERS does not have authorization under the marriage breakdown document to pay the former spouse directly, OMERS will accept the member's written authorization to do so. However, if OMERS does not have either authority, the member will be responsible for making the payment to the former spouse. OMERS will need the former spouse's full name, current address, social insurance number and, if applicable, direct deposit information. The former spouse will be taxed on their portion.
Additional Voluntary Contribution (AVC)
Provision If a member wishes to use funds from his or her AVC account for marriage breakdown purposes, the member can withdraw up to 50% of his or her AVC account balance determined as of the FLV Date. This withdrawal can be made at any time during the year and is subject to the applicable rules for the AVC provision of the Plan (e.g., locked-in amounts can be transferred only to another locked-in account). Before such a withdrawal can be made, the member will have to establish that the funds are required for an equalization payment (e.g., provide OMERS with a copy of court order, family arbitration award or domestic contract that contains appropriate language). Please note that OMERS does not transfer funds directly from a member's AVC account to a former spouse, so any payment must be made initially to the member and then the member must arrange the transfer to the former spouse.
Retirement Compensation Arrangement (RCA)
The RCA provides benefits in respect of contributory earnings for credited service accrued after 1991 that exceed the defined benefit limits for registered pension plans as prescribed by the Income Tax Act and Income Tax Regulation.
The RCA is not governed under the PBA, so it is not administered like the Plan. OMERS does not make any payment from the RCA to a person other than to the member (or their survivors). Therefore, the RCA benefit cannot be split at source similar to the defined benefit provision of the Plan. It will be the responsibility of the member to pay their former spouse to complete any split of the member's RCA benefit.
OMERS cannot provide legal advice. We recommend that you consult a pensions and benefits lawyer or family law lawyer.