Dividing Pension and Retirement Benefits in a Toronto High-Asset Divorce

When you get divorced and have a pension or retirement account, the court may require you to give credits or funds to your spouse. Dividing pension and retirement benefits in a Toronto high-asset divorce can be contentious and challenging to navigate alone. The seasoned high-asset divorce lawyers atThe Riley Divorce & Family Law Firm could help alleviate this burden by guiding and advocating for you during the divorce process.

Our skilled divorce lawyer has valuable experience representing high-income clients who need help protecting their assets during separation. Paul Riley could understand your unique situation to ensure we effectively serve you. We are available 24 hours a day to take your call.

How Does the Court Divide Assets in a Divorce?

Under the Family Law Act, the court begins the property division process in a divorce by adding the value of each spouse’s family property. The court considers what each spouse owns (such as pension plans) or owes (e.g., loans). Property not included when calculating your family assets include:

  • Damages in a personal injury claim
  • Property purchased using inherited money
  • Property a spouse inherited or received as a gift
  • Life insurance proceeds or a right to receive those proceeds

The court has a separate process for determining who has the right to receive the marital home. There is also a unique process for dividing property like pension and retirement benefits, something a trusted high-asset Toronto divorce lawyer could help explain. Whoever owns less family property than the other may have the right to receive income from the other spouse.

Typically, the family court might order one spouse to pay to their ex half of the difference between each spouse’s family property. Sometimes, the court may decide not to award the entire amount to the other spouse.

For example, if the other spouse intentionally or recklessly spent their share of the family property, the court will not award the total amount they would have typically received.

What Happens to Your Pension and Retirement Accounts in a Divorce?

During a high-asset Toronto divorce, the court uses the applicable law and any domestic contracts in force to determine the division of pension and retirement accounts. For example, if you and your spouse entered a marriage contract, the court may use this to determine how much your pension should be paid to your spouse. Domestic agreements can govern lump sum payments from a pension but not the division of someone’s interest (e.g., credits) in the fund.

Under the Pension Benefits Act, a spouse must apply to request they receive money from the other spouse’s pension plan. The maximum that someone can request is 50 percent of the imputed value of the pension under the family law guidelines. Likewise, if the spouse was supposed to receive money from the pension before the court calculates the family property, it may impact whether the other spouse can receive part of it.

How courts divide up retirement accounts typically depends on the applicable law, the type of account, and how it was funded. Some accounts remain in the name of the spouse who owns it, while others may be divided up during the divorce. If spouses use their money to fund the retirement account, they get to keep some or all of it after the separation. In your high-asset divorce, experienced legal professionals in Toronto could help you divide retirement benefits and pensions.

A Toronto High-Asset Divorce Lawyer Could Help You Divide Pension and Retirement Benefits

The property division process can be emotional and difficult, especially when you and your spouse have complex assets. Retaining professional legal counsel is imperative to properly splitting up assets. A well-practiced lawyer like Paul Riley could help you skillfully navigate the divorce process, including asset division.

Our legal team has successfully helped those going through high-asset divorces with the complex property division process. At The Riley Divorce & Family Law Firm, we can clearly explain the steps involved and help protect your assets. If you have questions about dividing pension and retirement benefits in a Toronto high-asset divorce, call us to schedule a consultation.

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