New forms must be used starting May 1, says DivorceMate’s Christine Montgomery
This article was produced in partnership with DivorceMate Software Inc.
Mallory Hendry of Canadian Lawyer sat down with Christine Montgomery, Director of Family Law Training, Support & Development at DivorceMate, to discuss an upcoming change to its Forms product line.
A pension is an asset that must be considered and equalized in the division of family property on a breakdown of a marriage – and it’s an important one, says Christine Montgomery, Director of Family Law Training, Support & Development at DivorceMate Software Inc.
“Besides a home, a pension is often the next biggest asset that spouses own,” Montgomery notes. “There has been an overhaul to the prior forms and guides, and new ones were published in November last year. With the transition period coming to an end, DivorceMate is in the process of finalizing the new forms to meet the May 1 deadline.”
In May of 2009, amendments were made to the Pension Benefits Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.8 (PBA) governing Ontario employer sponsored pensions plans, setting out a procedure for the division of those pensions. Essentially, a request is made to the pension administrator for a valuation of a pension accrued during the marriage, and the spouses then advise how the pension value is to be divided according to the allowable options under the legislation.
Previously, pensions under the PBA were regulated by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), and they were responsible for creating various pension division forms under the regulations to the PBA. These forms are available in both DivorceMate Software’s desktop and DM Cloud “Forms” product line.
“Our Forms software allows lawyers to create these pension forms easily without the necessity of repeatedly entering common information about the parties, such as names, addresses, birthdates, etc.,” Montgomery says. “Our DM Cloud forms additionally merge in repetitive information about the pension itself, such as the name of the pension administrator, their contact information, member and pension numbers, among other things.”
On June 8, 2019, a newly created agency, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA), took over the regulatory functions of FSCO (as well as the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario). As of the end of 2021, FSRA was responsible for 4,817 regulated pension plans.
One of FSRA’s initial mandates was to review pension division resulting from marriage breakdown, and to shift its guidance in this area to be more principles-based and comprehensive, and to create more plain-language guides for plan members and plan administrators. The ultimate goal was to build an easy, transparent and fair regime for pension division on marriage breakdown, Montgomery says, and in the course of its review, FSRA revamped the FSCO family law pension guides and forms and published new guides and forms on November 9, 2021, which can be found on the FSRA website www.fsrao.ca.
While during the transition period both the old family law FSCO forms and the new family law FSRA forms could be used and mixed, effective May 1, 2022, only the new FSRA forms will be accepted.
“Accordingly, DivorceMate is in the process of finalizing the new FSRA forms for its Forms product line, which will be available by the deadline,” Montgomery says. “Watch for DivorceMate’s release of these updated FSRA forms shortly.”
Christine obtained her Bachelor of Laws in 1991 from the University of Toronto, and was called to the Bar in 1992. Initially practicing civil and commercial litigation, Christine ultimately left to pursue an exclusive family law practice. In 2005, Christine joined DivorceMate as a family law consultant and has been involved in various software development projects, as well as overseeing the Precedents One software, conducting training sessions, providing support, writing articles, and presenting at numerous legal forums.