What happens to airline miles during a divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2020 | Property Division |

Not only are your airline rewards proof of the miles you have logged, but they also likely have significant value to you. If you accumulated your miles during your marriage, though, they are probably part of the marital estate.

In New Jersey, divorcing couples typically can negotiate division of the marital estate. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse cannot reach a consensus, however, a judge is likely to apply equitable principles to divvy up everything you jointly own.

Finding the value of your miles

Before thinking about post-divorce ownership of your airline miles, you may want to determine how much they are worth. Doing so, unfortunately, may not be a simple task. After all, airline miles are notoriously difficult to value.

Because your rewards program is likely to assign no cash value to your miles, your best bet may be to see how much buying power the miles have. That is, you may need to look for tickets or other perks and see how much they would cost to buy with cash.

Exploring options for dealing with airline miles

After estimating the value of your miles, you may be able to buy out your spouse’s ownership interest with cash. You may also be able to give up something of equal value in exchange for the miles. If your husband or wife wants to retain ownership of the miles you have accumulated, you may have additional hurdles to overcome.

Many airline rewards programs explicitly prohibit transferring miles. Consequently, if your spouse wants the travel perks, you may need to either invest in an airline gift card or use separate funds to pay for some of your husband’s or wife’s future travel expenses.



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