Benefits administration on marriage breakdown

When relationships end, benefits and pensions can be contentious — here’s what HR can do to help
By Kim Ozubko
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/10/2007

For every two couples that get married each year in Canada there is one divorce, according to Statistics Canada. In 2002, the country saw 146,738 marriages and 70,155 divorces.

Add into the equation common law and same-sex spouses, and there are a lot of relationships going awry. This can put employers in positions where unexpected — and perhaps impossible — demands are made for health-care coverage and a share of retirement savings.

Employees have many important decisions to make on the breakdown of a relationship, such as determining who gets custody of children and possession of the matrimonial home. Most of these require independent legal advice and should not be discussed by HR professionals. There are, however, some points that HR professionals should raise as soon as possible with employees (or their lawyers) to ensure any expectations with respect to benefits are reasonable.