Does ending my marriage or civil partnership affect my alpha pension?
A dependant pension may be due to an eligible surviving adult, such as a spouse, civil partner or partner, upon your death. Changes to your relationship status do not automatically affect your pension but could affect what benefits could be paid out if you die. For example: if you no longer had a partner, no partners’ pension would be paid. You should make sure you keep your death benefit nomination up to date if your personal circumstances change.
It is worth noting that your pension may be included in any payment / settlement agreed as part of divorce or dissolution proceedings.
Can my pension be paid to my ex-spouse / ex-civil partner?
The courts can decide that your ex-spouse / ex-civil partner is entitled to some of the pension you have built up during your marriage or are receiving (if you are already a pensioner) as part of your divorce settlement; and this can take the form of either an earmarking order, a pension sharing order, or a pension attachment order.
Who can help me understand the effect it will have on my pension?
While you are going through a divorce or dissolution your legal advisor / lawyer will be able to explain the full implications of earmarking and / or pension sharing order. The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will be able to provide the specific details that you will require.
Where can I find out more?
These orders are carried out using rules from the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999.
You (or your solicitor) must tell the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) in writing, the terms (or what the terms are expected to be) of the court order when you know them.
The court will need the details of your pension benefits when deciding if it should include an order in the divorce or dissolution.
The court will usually need two things, a Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV) estimate of your pension benefits and a copy of this pension scheme guide to explain how alpha works.
You must send the actual court order to Civil Service Pensions as soon as you receive it, along with the decree absolute (or dissolution certificate) and any other information that you are asked to provide.
How does my former spouse / civil partner get paid?
Attachment orders, also called earmarking orders.
Payments will be paid to your ex-spouse or civil partner when you claim your pension (retire). If the attachment order or earmarking order is for a regular payment, the payments will stop if you die before your former spouse / civil partner, or if they remarry or enter into a civil partnership in the future.
If the earmarking order includes a lump sum, these payments will still be made if they remarry or enter into a civil partnership in the future. But if they die before you, no payments will be made.
Pension sharing order
Your former spouse / civil partner will get a pension credit.
This is a pension that is based on a percentage of the CETV of your pension benefits.
The amount of pension they get will be worked out based on their age and gender. This can mean that the pension they get could be higher or lower than the amount you give up.
How do I get a Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV) estimate?
If you are still in service and need an estimate of the value of the pension you have built up, you can ask the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) for a CETV estimate. You should tell them it is for use in divorce / dissolution proceedings.
If you are currently in service, or a former member and not yet receiving your pension, you can get a CETV estimate free of charge once a year.
Are there any other charges?
You are not charged for your first CETV estimate each year, but you will have to pay for any further CETV estimates that you ask for after that.
Civil Service Pensions charge for some of the services and information it provides. The charges are reviewed each year. The court order will normally state who is liable to pay any charges.
The courts can decide that the costs are to be paid by you or your former spouse / civil partner, or that the costs are split between you. You can decide to pay the costs directly or to have your pension benefits reduced to cover the charges that are due.
How are benefits transferred under a pension sharing order?
Once you have passed on details of the order, and payments have been made, the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) works out the amount of pension benefits to be transferred based on your benefits up to the ‘effective date’.
The percentage (or amount) stated in the order is applied to the estimated value of your benefits at the effective date.
This amount is then transferred, in the form of pension benefits, to your former spouse or civil partner.
I am already getting my pension – what happens?
If you are already getting your pension, you may have to pay back some of the pension you have received.
This is because your pension will be reduced to take into account the court order. The start of your new lower rate of pension is backdated to the effective date stipulated in the court order.
What if I leave on ill-health grounds, or retire early?
If you are leaving on ill-health grounds or retire early, the pension sharing order, earmarking order or attachment order is applied at the point your pension starts being paid. The amount to be taken from your pension for the earmarking or sharing order is reduced to reflect the early payment of your pension.
What happens to Attachment orders and earmarking orders when I retire?
The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will ask you and your former spouse / civil partner to confirm that the order is still valid, by checking the marital status of your former spouse or civil partner.
Any benefit statements you receive will indicate whether the pension debit has been deducted.
What happens to a pension sharing order when I retire?
The actions are taken to set up your former spouse’s / civil partner’s pension when the order is applied. Your percentage of your alpha payment will come into payment when you retire.