I’ve been getting a number of questions lately about how RRSPs are treated during a divorce.
Although every province has slightly different divorce laws, they all treat RRSPs in a similar way.
It doesn’t matter who the RRSP or Spousal RRSP belongs to, and it doesn’t matter who actually contributed the money in the RRSP or Spousal RRSP. All RRSP contributions made during the years you were married (but not before) are considered marital property, just like your house. So they can be divided up between the two of you, or traded off against another asset.
For instance, say one partner has both an RRSP and a company pension, while the other doesn’t. If the money is close to equal, the partner with the pension could offer to give up the RRSPs in order to keep the pension for themselves.
In my own situation, I traded my share of the RRSPs for his share of the house.
Spousal RRSPs can be contentious during divorces because they belong to the spouse who’s name is on the account, not the person who contributed the money. But! Because you are getting divorced, all the money has to be counted in the communal pot.
So the contributor may, or may not, get some of their contributions back. Although, in practice, the higher earning spouse who has contributed to their wife’s or husband’s RRSP usually has a lot of RRSPs and Pension credits in their own name, so the chances of that happening in real life are pretty slim.
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