January 18, 2023
When Deanna Logan and William Logan separated in 2018 after a long-term marriage, they were able to settle most issues out of court — except one relating to William’s pension.
According to Alberta’s Matrimonial Property Act, property acquired during a marriage should be distributed equally upon its dissolution — something both parties agreed to. Where they didn’t see eye-to-eye was how to value the pension.
The Asbestos Workers’ Pension Plan is subject to Alberta’s Employment Pension Plans Act. Under this legislation, up to 50% of the commuted value of a pension can be paid out at source to a separating spouse. According to these rules, the plaintiff could expect to receive approximately $160,000. The plaintiff, meanwhile, argued that the pension should be valued at its present — or capitalized — value, which would see her receive approximately $217,000. Under Alberta’s Employment Pension Plans Act, a pension plan cannot pay out more than half of the commuted value, so the plaintiff argued that the defendant should pay the difference between the commuted value and the capitalized value out of other matrimonial assets.
After admitting the plaintiff’s argument was compelling, Justice S.M. Bensler ultimately decided that the provisions of the Employment Pension Plans Act were determinative, meaning the plaintiff was entitled to receive 50% of the commuted value of the pension.
“Not because [the Employment Pension Plans Act] trumps the Matrimonial Property Act,” she said, “but because the two pieces of legislation should be, and can be, read as part of a cohesive scheme.”
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