Pensions and marital breakdowns: information for lawyers
Lawyers are often asked to advise clients about dividing a pension benefit between a plan member and a former spouse. Learn more about the information and documents we need to administer a pension following a relationship breakdown.
Submit other applicable forms
Depending on the circumstances of the former spouse or plan member, several forms may need to be submitted to the corporation.
Claiming an interest in the pension
A former spouse can submit a Form P1 Claim and request for information and notice to make a claim to an interest in the plan member’s benefit and to receive information about the benefits.
The Form P1 includes a section for the former spouse to authorize the release of information to their representative, including their lawyer. This form is required before the pension administrator can provide any information to the former spouse or their lawyer.
The form can be filled out online on the Fill out a claim to an interest in your former spouse’s pension page, but must be printed, signed and witnessed before it is submitted. The completed form can then be submitted online on the Submit a form to claim your share of your former spouse’s pension page or by paper mail.
Once a Form P1 is filed, we will notify the former spouse of such filing. Further, the former spouse is thereafter entitled to receive 30 days’ advance notice of changes of circumstances affecting the benefits, such as if the member ends their membership in the plan, applies to retire or changes a beneficiary designation.
Applying to become a limited member
A former spouse may wish to become a limited member. Either the plan member or their former spouse may apply using a Form P2 Request for designation as limited member. Form P2 requires that the applicant also submit a copy of the agreement or court order dividing the benefits, such as a separation agreement or court order, and pay an administrative fee of $750.
The Form P2 can be filled out online on the Fill out the limited member application page, but must be printed, signed and witnessed, before it is submitted. The completed form and supporting documents can then be submitted online on the Submit a form to become a limited member page or by paper mail. The fee can be paid via online banking, cheque, money order or bank draft; it should be made payable to WorkSafeBC Pension Plan.
Once designated as a limited member, the former spouse can apply for their proportionate share of the plan member’s pension when the plan member has reached their earliest retirement age. Keep in mind that we do not inform or notify the former spouse or their representative of this date. If you are acting for a former spouse, we suggest you mark this date in your calendar to ensure your client does not miss out the earliest date they can apply for their proportionate share of the plan member’s pension. It is solely the former spouse’s responsibility to apply for their benefit as either a lump-sum transfer of the commuted value to a locked-in financial vehicle or as a separate pension.
As a limited member, the former spouse is entitled to receive certain information, including an annual benefit statement. One benefit of becoming a limited member before the plan member retires is the right to name specified beneficiaries of the limited member’s portion of the pension benefit.
Transferring the benefit entitlement
If the plan member is not yet receiving a pension, the limited member may choose either a lump-sum commuted value transfer or a separate pension.
Once the plan member reaches earliest retirement age, the limited member may submit a Form P4 Request by limited member for transfer or separate pension to choose how to receive their share of benefits.
Waiving survivor benefits
The Family Law Act permits the former spouse to give up survivor benefits so that they can be paid to another person using a Form P5 Waiver of survivor benefits after pension commencement. However, the WorkSafeBC Pension Plan does not accept or administer this form.
Withdrawing a claim
Form P7 Withdrawal of notice/waiver of claim is used in three ways by the former spouse, or their personal representative if the former spouse is deceased:
- To withdraw a notice or other document delivered to the administrator, or
- To withdraw all forms and documents filed in connection with their claim to an interest in the member's benefits and waive their claim to any interest.
Once the pension has been divided and paid to the former spouse, a claim cannot be withdrawn. A Form P7 cannot be used to withdraw a Form P7.
Updating personal contact information
It is important to keep contact information up to date. The former spouse can use a Form P8 Change of information to notify the plan administrator of any changes to their personal information. However, a Form P8 is not required to update personal contact information; a letter, verified-identity phone call or updates through My Account are all acceptable.
Submitting a form to divide the pension benefit
An agreement or court order dividing benefits is required before a spouse is entitled to receive a proportionate share of benefits. The parties may use a Form P9 Agreement to have benefits divided under Part 6 to satisfy this requirement. However, if the parties already have an agreed upon separation agreement or court order dividing benefits, then they do not need to use or submit a Form P9.
If parties have a court order or agreement dated prior to July 1, 1995, they may use a Form P9 to bring their previous agreement under the operation of Part 6 of the Family Law Act.
External links for information for lawyers
Read the BC Law Institute's Questions and Answers about pension and division
Form P1 Claim and request for information and notice
Form P2 Request for designation as limited member
Form P4 Request by limited member for transfer or separate pension
Form P5 Waiver of survivor benefits after pension commencement
Form P7 Withdrawal of notice/waiver of claim
Form P9 Agreement to have benefits divided under part 6