What Happens to Airline Miles in Divorce?
In a divorce, the division of assets and debts is a crucial aspect of the settlement process. Any assets or debts acquired during the marriage are considered marital property and must be divided fairly. One unique asset that has gained significance in recent years is airline miles. As more couples travel extensively for business or pleasure, the question of dividing airline miles has become increasingly important. In this article, we will explore the complexities of dividing airline miles during divorce and how their value can impact settlement negotiations.
Understanding the Value of Airline Miles
Airline miles hold substantial value for travelers as they can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and other travel-related perks. During a marriage, the airline miles accumulated by either spouse are considered marital property, irrespective of whose name they are in. When it comes to divorce, these miles become subject to division, and their value can significantly impact the settlement.
Methods of Dividing Airline Miles
Dividing airline miles can be challenging, as some airlines have strict policies against selling or transferring miles. However, there are several methods that couples can consider:
Redemption and Division
One option is to redeem the accumulated miles and divide the benefits between both spouses. For instance, if there are enough miles for two flight tickets, each spouse can use their share separately.
Offsetting with Cash or Assets
Another approach is for one spouse to offer cash or other assets of equal value to offset the value of the airline miles accrued by the other spouse.
Evaluating the Value of Airline Miles
Determining the exact cash value of airline miles can be challenging as it varies depending on the airline’s loyalty program and the type of redemption. On average, research estimates that an airline mile is worth approximately 1.3 cents.
Airline-Specific Policies for Transferring Miles
The possibility of transferring miles depends on the policies of each airline. Let’s take a look at some major airlines and their specific rules regarding mile transfers:
Delta Airlines allows the transfer of miles in 1,000-mile allotments, with a maximum of 30,000 miles per transaction. Transfers are limited to SkyMiles members and are subject to a transfer fee of $0.01 per mile, along with a $30 transaction fee and taxes.
American Airlines permits AAdvantage members to transfer miles to other member accounts only. The transfer fee is $12.50 per 1,000 miles, and there is an additional $15 transaction fee, along with taxes. The maximum number of miles that can be transferred or received in a calendar year is 200,000.
Southwest Airlines allows the transfer of Rapid Rewards points in 500-mile blocks (1,000-mile blocks during promotional periods). The minimum transfer is 2,000 points, and the maximum is 60,000 points per transaction. The cost for transferring points is $0.01 per point plus taxes.
JetBlue has a unique approach, allowing family members and friends to pool points and share them at no cost, subject to terms and conditions. If both spouses are members of a family pool, they can use their share of the accumulated miles.
Drafting Your Property Settlement Agreement
A divorce can be emotionally challenging, but a less contentious approach to property division can make the process smoother and more affordable. Seeking the guidance of a professional divorce mediator or collaborative divorce lawyer can help you and your spouse reach a mutually agreed-upon settlement that benefits both parties.
At Know Law , we believe in finding a better way through divorce, avoiding angry legal battles and promoting respectful negotiations. If you want to explore how we can assist you, schedule a free 15-minute call to learn more about our services.
- Can airline miles be considered marital property in a divorce? Yes, any assets or debts acquired during the marriage, including airline miles, are considered marital property and subject to division in a divorce settlement.
- How can I determine the value of my airline miles? The cash value of airline miles depends on the airline’s loyalty program and the type of redemption. On average, an airline mile is worth approximately 1.3 cents.
- Can I transfer my airline miles to my spouse during a divorce? Whether you can transfer airline miles to your spouse depends on the policies of the specific airline. Some airlines allow transfers with fees, while others prohibit it altogether.
- What options do I have for dividing airline miles in a divorce? You can either redeem the miles and divide the benefits or offset the value of the miles with cash or other assets of equal value.
- How can a divorce mediator or collaborative lawyer help in the property division process? These professionals can assist you and your spouse in reaching a mutually agreed-upon settlement, reducing conflict, and making the divorce process smoother and more amicable.