This month Kara tackles your tricky questions about your pension and where your pre-teen will live after you separate from your spouse.
Q: What happens to my pension when my spouse and I separate?
A: If you made contributions to your pension during the period of time that you lived with your spouse, that portion of your pension is presumptively family property which is to be shared 50-50. This division is usually done in one of two ways. The first is to have your pension valued by an actuary who will provide you with an estimate of the value of your pension for the period of time you lived with your spouse. You would then buy-out your spouse for 50% of that value using other financial resources available to you. The second option is to split the pension at the source, meaning that your pension provider will calculate how much your spouse would be entitled to, and your spouse will receive their share from the pension provider directly, usually by way of monthly payments. Every pension is different, so it is important to get personalized advice for your situation.
Q: Can my thirteen year old son decide where he wants to live?
A: When considering who a child should live with, the Family Law Act states the only consideration for a court is what is in the best interest of the child. The Family Law Act lists a number of factors the court may consider, including the views of the child. There is no magic age at which point children get to decide where they live, but courts tend to give more weight to the opinions of older children. Judges are generally reluctant to hear from children directly, whether in private or in open court. To ensure your child’s views are properly considered, a Views of the Child Report can be prepared by a trained professional like a social worker, counselor, or psychologist and submitted to the court. There are some reports that can be obtained free of charge and some reports that can be quite costly.
Caution: This is not legal advice, and you should not rely on it as such. To ensure your interests are protected, formally seek advice from a lawyer.