Equalization: Canada Pension Plan Credit Splitting

Do I have a right to share my spouse's CPP credits?

It is not uncommon for one spouse to make significantly less than the other, especially during periods of time when a couple is raising children, or have recently moved for one spouse to take a new job.  During these periods, the parties' contributions to their CPP may be significantly different.  In this post, Jeffrey Sun, Fresh Legal intern and University of Ottawa law student, reviews how CPP credits can be divided to address this imbalance.

When getting divorced, property must be equalized according to the Family Law Act. Pension plans are one kind of property that is divided. Canada Pension Plan credits, however, are excluded property under the Family Law Act.

CPP being excluded property doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get divided; it only means that the division is not calculated as part of the Net Family Property division. The division, commonly known as “credit splitting,” is simply done outside of the equalization process.

What is involved in credit splitting?

The CPP legislation allows for splitting of credits that you and/or your spouse, former spouse, or former common law partner accumulated during the time that you lived together. To have the calculations done, you must submit a Credit Splitting form.  

The credits you and your spouse accumulated during the time you lived together will be divided equally between you.  Depending on your relative incomes and the duration of your relationship, credit splitting can have a significant impact on the CPP you receive later in life.

You must complete the form with all necessary information (e.g., exact Marriage, Separation, and Divorce dates) and provide all the supporting documentation for this information (e.g., Marriage and Divorce Certificates).

Limitation Period

A "limitation period" is a deadline for making a claim.

If you were in a common-law relationship, you must apply within forty eight (48) months of the date you began living apart (your separation date). If this period has passed, you will need your ex spouse’s consent to waive the time limit in order to credit split.

If you were married, there is no time limit to apply for a credit split.

If you spouse passes away, you must apply for Credit Splitting within thirty six (36) months of your spouse’s death, regardless of whether you were married or common-law.

For more information, visit the Government of Canada information site.