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2011: How are Frequent Flyer Miles Divided in San Diego Superior Court for a Divorce or Legal Separation?

In a divorce or legal separation in San Diego, assets and debts are divided. In a legal separation or divorce, one of the assets may be frequent flyer miles which may have a significant value. The frequent flyer miles earned from the date of marriage to the date of separation may be as part of the employment of a spouse or may be for personal travel. In addition, frequent flyer miles may be obtained through credit card purchases which have miles as a benefit of the card itself as well as for rental cars, renting a car, staying in a hotel, long distance telephone calls and many others. n either event, in a judgment for divorce or legal separation, the frequent flyer miles will be divided however there are different methods for the division. The frequent flyer miles can also be used in a “global settlement” with an offset for a division of another asset or debt.

The first consideration should be how many miles are involved. If less than 1,000 miles than this is different than over 1,000,000 miles. As plane travel can be very expensive, miles can be used instead of cash payment and this can save thousands of dollars depending on the airline travel. If the amount of miles is equivalent to one round trip domestic fare ticket, then the cost of the division and attorney time may not be prudent. On the other hand, if a round trip ticket around the world, then this is different.

The second consideration is whether the miles are divisible themselves. The best procedure is to contact the airlines and see if it is possible to divide the miles {per California community property law} and open a second account and then have the miles placed into the second account. There may be a fee for this and this fee can be divided one half each in the divorce or legal separation. If the miles are not divisible, then the miles can be valued. One suggestion is to use a travel agent to value the tickets. In this way, an expert opinion and the costs for this can be avoided. There is also the possibility of searching on the internet and seeing if a determination can be made as to the value.

The third consideration, if the miles are not divisible, is to contact the airlines and determine if the account owner can have tickets issued in another name. In this way, the miles can be divided and the tickets used as needed for travel, Another option, if visitation requires travel on an airplane is to use the miles for the transportation.

Last, miles can expire and programs often change. Make sure to keep up to date regarding the program and miles and any restrictions. If you have any questions regarding your divorce or legal separation of assets and debts, including frequent flyer miles, please feel free to contact us to discuss your legal matter.

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