Thursday, May 24, 2007

Separation and Divorce - The Impact on WSIB benefits

The question of whether WSIB benefits, a pension and supplementary benefits (now replaced by NEL and LOE benefits) should form part of net family property in an equalization on separation or divorce was reviewed by the Court of Appeal in the case Lowe v. Lowe. The Court determined that WSIB payments should not be included in the calculation since they are exempted from the definition of property. Damages or a right to damages for personal injuries, nervous shock, mental distress or loss of guidance, care and companionship, or the part of a settlement that represents those damages are exempt under the Family Law Act. It is clear that a pension or NEL award would fall within the exemption. It is an award to compensate for the pain and suffering and physicial or mental injury.

In determining whether the monthly benefit is to be included the Court looked at the case of Brice v. Brice. The case stated "It seems to me preferable from the perspective of clarity and predictability to treat all disability benefits the same whether they are calculated strictly in terms of lost income or as compensation for impairment to earning capacity. However, as I have already indicated, disability payments that form part and parcel of an employee pension benefit plan may be on a different footing. In the end, the central point is that disability benefits represent income replacement and, from the perspective of family property and spousal support, are more appropriately treated on the same basis as income for employment."

As a result the Court of Appeal determined that WSIB benefits were not part of the calculation for net family property.

1 comment:

Orewon said...

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