When you begin the divorce process, one of the first steps is figuring out how your marital assets will be divided. In a community property state such as California, the general rule of thumb is that all assets acquired during your marriage will be divided equally during a divorce.
When you think of marital assets, the obvious ones come to mind: your home, your money, maybe even your stock options. But you also need to consider more obscure assets, such as your air miles. After you and your ex-spouse have negotiated the division of your real estate, cash, and other unique assets, the air miles you saved up might seem like the least of your worries.
Believe it or not, many couples fight viciously over these seemingly small marital assets. If you or your spouse traveled frequently, the reward points you accumulated can actually add up to a large sum. Let’s take a look at how air miles are divided during a divorce.
It first depends on the terms and conditions of the rewards program.
Your rewards program for your air miles or other travel expenses will have its own set of terms and conditions. Often, these terms will specifically state that the points you accumulate cannot be transferred to a spouse as part of a divorce.1 If this is the case, it would make more sense to negotiate for something else of similar or equal value during the divorce settlement.
What is the monetary value of your air miles or reward points?
Many loyalty programs will not give you the monetary value of the points that you have collected over time. If this is the case, you and your skilled attorney will need to work together to convert the miles or points into a monetary value.2
For example, your airline’s terms might say that you can redeem a free flight after traveling 25,000 miles. If the value of the free flight is typically $500, you can determine that 25,000 miles has a cash value of about $500. Of course, this becomes complicated because that cash value changes depending on the destination of the flight and the time of the year.
Can the points or miles be equally divided into two separate accounts?
Some loyalty programs will allow the rewards points or air miles to be divided equally into two separate accounts. If you are allowed to do this, it may be your best option. Just know that the company awarding you the points will probably charge a fee for transferring them.3
Child custody can affect the negotiation of the air miles.
If you and your spouse have a child together, you are likely to go through child custody mediation to determine how your time with the child is divided.
If either you or your ex-spouse decide to move away a far distance after the divorce, the air miles will be divided accordingly. For example, you may negotiate to receive all of the accumulated air miles, but if your spouse lives in another state, he or she may ask that you pay for the child’s flights back and forth between your homes.4
Use your head when negotiating your rewards points!
While divorce itself is already an emotional and stressful situation, dividing up the marital assets can be equally painful. As emotional beings, we can place much more monetary value on certain items than they are worth. For example, you may see your accumulated air miles as an emotional connection to your many vacations and business trips. Try not to let your emotions get in the way. Avoid giving up something with a much greater value in exchange for the air miles.
Call the Divorce Lawyers at Wallin & Klarich Today
Dividing up your marital assets can become one of the most difficult aspects of your divorce. Your complicated finances as well as the emotional value of your assets all play a role in their division during the divorce settlement. A skilled and knowledgeable family law attorney will help you negotiate the best outcome in your divorce case. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully handling divorce matters for over 30 years.
With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, our experienced attorneys are always available to help you.
Call us today at (888) 749-7428 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.