Relationship Breakdowns

If you're married or in a common-law relationship and your relationship is coming to an end, it's important to understand how your pension benefit might be affected. It's also important for you to contact us as soon as possible so we can ensure our files are up to date.

Please review the information below that's relevant to your situation. You can contact us for further information.

Marriage Breakdown

If you're married and in the process of separating or getting divorced from your spouse, your pension is considered matrimonial property that may be divided under Alberta's Matrimonial Property Act. You or your spouse can request a Total Entitlement Estimate which will provide the estimated value of your pension benefit.

Not every separation or divorce will result in your pension benefit being divided. Instead of dividing your pension benefit, you and your spouse might agree that other assets of equal value can cover anything owed to each other, or you might agree not to divide anything at all.

If your pension benefit is going to be divided, we require a court-certified copy of your matrimonial property order (MPO) that complies with the applicable legislation. Your spouse's share of your pension benefit is limited to a maximum of 50% of the value of the pension you earned during the period of joint accrual. After your pension benefit is divided, your portion of the benefit will be reduced accordingly. We recommend that you provide SFPP's benefit administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS), with a draft of your MPO before it's finalized so that APS can make sure it complies with the applicable legislation.

You should let us know as soon as possible once a decision has been made about whether or not your pension will be divided. We also recommend getting advice from a lawyer -- you can direct them to the Instructions for Lawyers page for more detailed information.


 

Requesting a Total Entitlement Estimate

If you're considering dividing your pension, an important step is determining the value of the pension benefit that can be divided. This information can be provided in the form of a Total Entitlement Estimate, which can be requested in writing by you or your spouse. Regardless of whether you or your spouse makes the request, both of you will be sent a copy of the Total Entitlement Estimate.

Please note:

  • A Total Entitlement Estimate is the only statement that will provide you with information about the value of your pension benefit that can be divided. For example, your Pension Highlights statement should not be used for this purpose.
  • Requesting a Total Entitlement Estimate will not result in any division of your pension benefit. Please see the information below about dividing your pension benefit.

How to Request a Total Entitlement Estimate

A Total Entitlement Estimate must be requested in writing. The request must contain the following information:

  • the signature of the person making the request;
  • the full names, current addresses and current phone numbers of both the SFPP member and the spouse; and
  • the end date of period of joint accrual.

Please note: a written request for a Total Entitlement Estimate can be made by your lawyer or your spouse's lawyer. The Total Entitlement Estimate contact information provided for you and/or your spouse can also be care of your lawyer or your spouses's lawyer. If this is the case, you and your spouse must provide an authorization allowing the release of the information to the lawyer(s). Contact us for information about the request and how to submit it.

Information Provided in a Total Entitlement Estimate

If you're not yet in receipt of a pension, your Total Entitlement Estimate will provide:

  • an estimate of your pension benefit as of the end date of the period of joint accrual;
  • the first date of accumulation of pensionable service under the Plan;
  • if applicable, the date that you terminated from participating in the Plan; and
  • the amount of pensionable service you accumulated up to the end date of the period of joint accrual (as specified in the request for the Total Entitlement Estimate) and, if applicable, the amount of pensionable service accumulated during the period of joint accrual.

If you're already in receipt of a pension, your Total Entitlement Estimate will provide:

  • the amount of your monthly pension;
  • the first date of accumulation of pensionable service under the Plan;
  • the date you terminated from participating in the Plan; and
  • the amount of pensionable service you accumulated up to the end date of the period of joint accrual (as specified in the request for the Total Entitlement Estimate) and, if applicable, the amount of pensionable service accumulated during the period of joint accrual.

Understanding Your Total Entitlement Estimate

Before You've Started Your SFPP Pension

The Total Entitlement Estimate that is sent to you and your spouse will provide an estimate of the total value of benefits accrued to you from the day you began participating in the Plan until the end date of the period of joint accrual that was indicated in the request for a Total Entitlement Estimate.

If your period of joint accrual covers the entire time that you participated in the Plan, the total value of your accrued benefits listed in the Total Entitlement Estimate under the Value of the Benefits Accrued Under the Pension Plan section is the total pre-division benefit. If this is the case, to determine your spouse’s estimated entitlement, multiply the total pre-division benefit by the division factor (not to exceed 50%).

If your period of joint accrual covers only a portion of the time that you participated in the Plan, you will need to perform your own calculations to obtain a prorated total pre-division benefit. If this is the case, you will need to perform the following calculations to determine your spouse’s estimated entitlement using the information provided under the Value of the Benefits Accrued Under the Pension Plan section on your Total Entitlement Estimate:

To calculate the prorated total pre-division benefit, use the following formula:

In the formula above, the pensionable service accumulated during assumed period of joint accrual and the pensionable service at the end date of assumed period of joint accrual are both found in the Service section of your Total Entitlement Estimate. Please note that if the start date of the period of joint accrual was not indicated in the request for the Total Entitlement Estimate, the amount of pensionable service accumulated during the period of joint accrual will also need to be prorated before it's used in the formula above.

To estimate your spouse’s entitlement, multiply the prorated total pre-division benefit by the division factor (not to exceed 50%).

After You've Started Your SFPP Pension

The Total Entitlement Estimate that will be sent to you and your spouse will provide you with information regarding your pension benefit, including the amount of your monthly pension payment and your total years of pensionable service. Your spouse is entitled to up to 50% of the pension benefit that you earned during the period of joint accrual.

If your period of joint accrual covers the entire time that you participated in the Plan, the amount of your monthly pension is the total pre-division benefit. If this is the case, to determine your spouse’s estimated entitlement, multiply the total pre-division benefit by the division factor (not to exceed 50%).

If your period of joint accrual covers only a portion of the time that you participated in the Plan, you will need to perform your own calculations to obtain a prorated total pre-division benefit. If this is the case, you will need to perform the following calculations to determine your spouse’s estimated entitlement using the information provided in your Total Entitlement Estimate:

To calculate the prorated total pre-division benefit, use the following formula:

Please contact us if you don't know the amount of pensionable service accumulated during the period of joint accrual.

To estimate your spouse’s entitlement, multiply the prorated total pre-division benefit by the division factor (not to exceed 50%).

Not Dividing Your Pension Benefit

If your pension benefit is not being divided, you won't be required to submit an MPO. However, specific information may be required to update our records. Please review the information below that is relevant to your situation. You can contact us for further information.

Please note: even if your pension benefit isn't being divided, if you've obtained an MPO that confirms that your pension won't be divided, please send us a court-certified copy.

If You're Separated But Not Divorced From Your Spouse and Your Pension is Not Yet in Pay

If you're separated but not divorced from your spouse and your pension is not yet in pay, whether or not your spouse will remain your pension partner will depend on the length of time you have been separated:

  • If you've been separated for fewer than 3 years before you commence to be paid your pension, your spouse will remain your pension partner until you have been separated for at least 3 years.
  • If you've been separated for at least 3 years before you commence to be paid your pension, you're considered to be long-separated from your spouse and they're no longer your pension partner.

Once you have been separated for at least 3 years, if neither of you has commenced an application for an MPO, you can update your records to reflect that your spouse is no longer your pension partner by providing us with specific documentation:

  • If you have a written separation agreement: Please provide us with a copy of that agreement. We'll send you a specific statutory declaration that must be completed and submitted to us, with your written separation agreement attached as Exhibit "A."
  • If you don't have a written separation agreement: Please contact us so that we can send you a specific statutory declaration that must be completed and submitted to us.

If You're Separated But Not Divorced From Your Spouse and Your Pension is Already in Pay

If you're separated but not divorced from your spouse and your pension is already in pay, the updates that can be made to our records will depend on whether you chose a joint lifetime pension option or a single lifetime pension option at the time you retired.

  • If you chose a joint lifetime pension option with your spouse as your pension partner, they'll continue to be entitled to survivor benefits if you pass away before them. This is because once your start to receive your pension, your chosen pension option cannot be changed.
  • If you chose a single lifetime pension option with a 5, 10 or 15-year guaranteed period, you may have designated your spouse as your beneficiary. If the guarantee period has not yet expired, you can update your beneficiary(ies) on www.mypensionplan.ca or by sending us a completed Designation of Beneficiary(ies) form.

If Your Divorce is Finalized Before You Commence to be Paid Your Pension

If your divorce is finalized before you commence to be paid your pension, please send us a copy of your divorce certificate so that our records can be updated to reflect that your spouse is no longer your pension partner. Further information may be required at the time your pension entitlement is actually paid. At that time, you and/or your spouse may be asked to provide additional documentation such as a specific statutory declaration confirming that no MPO exists that affects your pension, and/or a copy of any legal separation agreement, if applicable.

If Your Divorce is Finalized After You Commence to be Paid Your Pension

If your divorce is finalized after you commence to be paid your pension, the updates that can be made to our records will depend on whether you chose a joint lifetime pension option or a single lifetime pension option at the time you retired.

  • If you chose a joint lifetime pension option with your spouse as your pension partner, they'll continue to be entitled to survivor benefits if you pass away before them. This is because once you start to receive your pension, your chosen pension option cannot be changed.
  • If you chose a single lifetime pension option with a 5, 10 or 15-year guaranteed period, you may have designated your spouse as your beneficiary. If the guarantee period has not yet expired, you can update your beneficiary(ies) on www.mypensionplan.ca or by sending us a completed Designation of Beneficiary(ies) form.

Dividing Your Pension Benefit

 
Step 1 Obtain a Total Entitlement Estimate

A Total Entitlement Estimate (TEE) will provide you and your spouse with information about the value of your pension benefit.

For more information, see the Requesting a Total Entitlement Estimate section of this page, or contact us.

Step 2 Start Drafting Your MPO

To divide your pension benefit, you must obtain a matrimonial property order (MPO) that provides specific instruction on how the benefit is to be divided.

For information on the process to obtain an MPO, please speak to a lawyer or contact the court.

For information about what your MPO must include and for sample draft MPOs, see the Getting an MPO section of this page.

It's recommended that your draft MPO is reviewed by SFPP's benefit administrator, APS, prior to proceeding to the next step.

Step 3 File Your MPO with the Court and Obtain a Court-Certified Copy

An MPO is not enforceable until it’s been signed by a judge and filed by a clerk of the court.

Immediately after the MPO is filed, request a court-certified copy of your MPO that’s stamped as a true copy of the original and signed by a clerk of the court. You will need to provide this to APS.

For information on how to file your MPO with the court, or obtain a court-certified copy, please speak to a lawyer or the court.

Step 4 Submit a Court-Certified Copy of Your MPO to APS

In order to divide your pension benefit, we require a court-certified copy of your MPO. This copy must be sent or delivered to APS at the following address:

Special Forces Pension Plan
c/o Alberta Pensions Services Corporation
5103 Windermere Blvd. SW
Edmonton AB T6W 0S9

If you're dividing your pension benefit, we require a court-certified copy of your MPO that complies with the applicable legislation. We recommend that you provide APS with a draft of your MPO before it's finalized so that APS can make sure that it complies with the applicable legislation.

The type of benefit that is available to your spouse and how that benefit is paid will depend on whether the division will take place before your pension is in pay. If your pension benefit is to be divided before your pension is in pay, your spouse will be paid a lump sum. If your pension benefit is to be divided after your pension is in pay, your spouse will be paid a portion of each of your monthly pension payments.

If you're considering retiring while you are in the process of getting an MPO to divide your pension benefit, you and your spouse will need to consider whether a lump sum division is the preferred option.

In order to have a lump sum division, the MPO must be filed with APS prior to your selected pension commencement date. Once your selected pension commencement date has passed, the lump sum division option will no longer be available.

Before Your Pension is in Pay

If you're dividing your pension benefit before your pension is in pay, the lump sum benefit that's available to your spouse, and when and how that benefit is paid, will depend on your age and whether or not you're vested at the end of the period of joint accrual.

If you're not vested at the end date of the period of joint accrual, your spouse is entitled to an immediate lump sum that can be paid as a taxable cash refund or transferred to a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP). This lump sum amount cannot be more than 50% of the SFPP contributions you paid during the period of joint accrual.

If you're vested but not yet age 45 at the end date of the period of joint accrual, your spouse is entitled to a lump sum that must be transferred to a locked-in retirement account (LIRA). This lump sum cannot be more than 50% of the commuted value that accrued during the period of joint accrual. The commuted value amount will be calculated as if you terminated from participating in the Plan at the end of the period of joint accrual and assumes that you would commence to be paid a pension at age 55.

If you're vested and age 45 or older at the end date of the period of joint accrual, your spouse is entitled to a lump sum that must be transferred to a locked-in retirement account (LIRA). This lump sum cannot be more than 50% of the commuted value that accrued during the period of joint accrual. Your spouse can decide between being paid the lump sum right away (an immediate division) or delaying the payment until the date you receive your SFPP pension benefit or until the time of your death if you pass away before receiving your SFPP pension benefit (a delayed division).

In the case of an immediate division, the commuted value amount will be calculated as if you terminated from participating in the Plan at the end of the period of joint accrual and assuming that you would commence to be paid a pension at age 55.

In the case of a delayed division, the commuted value amount will be calculated as at the time your SFPP pension benefit is actually paid. The salary used for this calculation will be the best 5 years at the time of the pension event (retirement, transfer, or death).

Please note that all benefit statements and estimates, including Pension Highlights, that are sent to you before your pension benefit is divided will display the total pension benefit including your spouse's portion. Once the delayed division has occurred, your benefit will be reduced to account for the payment made to your spouse. Future benefit statements will then display that reduced amount.

After Your Pension Benefit is Divided

If your spouse chose an immediate lump sum division, after the division has taken place you will be provided with a statement containing:

  • the date of the division, and
  • information about the remaining benefits to which you will be entitled.

Your pension benefit will be reduced by a "pension offset" to account for the portion of your pension benefit that was paid to your spouse. All future annual Pension Highlights that you receive will reflect your reduced pension benefit.

Your records will be updated to reflect that your spouse is no longer your pension partner after the division of your pension benefit or when we receive your divorce certificate, whichever occurs first. We require a copy of your divorce certificate to update your marital status from "married" to "divorced."

If your spouse chose a delayed lump sum division, your spouse will receive their portion of your pension benefit at the time that your benefit is to be paid. Both you and your spouse will be provided with statements containing information about the portion of the benefits to which you are entitled. The benefit shown in your statement will already be reduced to account for the portion of the benefit payable to your spouse.

Your records will be updated to reflect that your spouse is no longer your pension partner after the division of your pension benefit or when we receive your divorce certificate, whichever occurs first. We require a copy of your divorce certificate to update your marital status from "married" to "divorced."

After Your Pension is in Pay

If you're dividing your pension benefit after your pension is in pay, your spouse will be paid a portion of each of your monthly pension payments. A lump sum payment is not an option.

Your spouse's share of your pension benefit is limited to a maximum of 50% of the portion of each of your monthly pension payments that relates to pensionable service that was earned during the period of joint accrual.

After Your Pension Benefit is Divided

If your benefit is divided after your pension is in pay, once the division has taken place you'll be provided with a statement containing:

  • the date of the division, and
  • information about the remaining benefits to which you will be entitled.

Your pension benefit will be reduced to account for the portion of your pension benefit that is being paid to your spouse. All future Pensioner Annual Statements will reflect your reduced pension benefit. Your spouse will also receive Pensioner Annual Statements regarding their portion of your pension benefit.

Dividing a pension that is in pay does not mean that you are changing your pension choice. If, at the time you retired, you chose a joint lifetime pension option with your spouse as your pension partner, they'll continue to be entitled to survivor benefits if you pass away before them.

However, if you chose a single lifetime pension option with a 5, 10 or 15-year guaranteed period, you may have designated your spouse as your beneficiary. If the guarantee period has not yet expired, you can update your beneficiary(ies) on www.mypensionplan.ca or by sending us a completed Designation of Beneficiary(ies) form.

Getting an MPO

If you're dividing your pension benefit, your MPO must always set out:

  • the beginning and end of the period of joint accrual (the period that your pension benefits are considered to have jointly accrued for the purposes of the Matrimonial Property Act);
  • the "division factor," which is the percentage share of the jointly accrued benefit which is awarded to your spouse. The division factor must not exceed 50%; and
  • if the division is to take place before you commence to be paid your pension, whether or not there is to be a delayed division. (Note: a delayed division is only available if you're age 45 or older at the end date of the period of joint accrual).

Once finalized, a court-certified copy of the MPO must be sent to APS at the following address:

5103 Windermere Blvd. SW
Edmonton AB T6W 0S9

For more information about MPOs, please see the following:


Breakdown of a Common-Law Relationship

If you were in a common-law relationship (also known as an adult interdependent relationship), your pension benefits cannot be divided as this type of relationship isn't covered under Alberta's Matrimonial Property Act.

If your common-law relationship ends before you commence to be paid your pension, your common-law partner is not entitled to any part of your pension benefit. It's important that you contact us as soon as possible so that we can let you know what information is required to update our records to reflect that you no longer have a pension partner.

If your common-law relationship ends after you commence to be paid your pension, the effect on your pension will depend on whether you chose a joint lifetime pension option or a single lifetime pension option at the time you retired.

  • If you chose a joint lifetime pension option with your common-law partner as your pension partner, they'll continue to be entitled to survivor benefits if you pass away before them. This is because once you start to receive your pension, your chosen pension option cannot be changed.
  • If you chose a single lifetime pension option with a 5, 10 or 15-year guaranteed period, you may have designated your common-law partner as your beneficiary. If the guarantee period has not yet expired, you can update your beneficiary(ies) on www.mypensionplan.ca or by sending us a completed Designation of Beneficiary(ies) form.