September 08, 2023
In Greenwood v. Greenwood, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled that a pensioner’s widow must pay the pensioner’s ex-wife a portion of her survivor benefits.
In 1981, a judge granted Doris Greenwood a 47% interest as a tenant-in-common in her former husband Stanley Greenwood’s pension benefits. Soon after, Stanley married his second wife, Colette, and named her as the beneficiary of his joint and survivor pension. In 1990, there was additional litigation between Doris and Stanley, where Doris’s interest in Stanley’s pension benefits was fixed at 25.56% of the pension that Stanley was receiving.
After Stanley died, Doris claimed that she should receive a portion of Colette’s survivor benefits, based on the terms of the 1981 order. However, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench dismissed Doris’s application, on the basis that her entitlement to her ex-husband’s pension benefits ended with his death (based on the judge’s interpretation of the 1990 order) and that the judge in 1981 did not contemplate a survivor benefit being included in the scope of Stanley’s pension benefits.
However, the Court of Appeal overturned the ruling, finding that the Chambers judge had erred in interpreting the 1990 order as varying the 1981 order. The 1981 order vested Doris with an interest in a portion of Stanley’s pension benefits, “in whatever form those benefits might take, whenever they might be received.”
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