Any income or assets acquired during a New Jersey marriage are marital property and must be divided equitably (fairly) upon the couple’s divorce. Frequent flyer miles that one spouse accrues during the marriage are marital property, then, and must be split fairly between the spouses if they divorce, right?
Yes, in theory. However, frequent flyer miles (and loyalty currency, more generally) have characteristics that make them notoriously difficult to divide during a divorce. It is possible to find creative solutions, however, and the Somerville family law attorneys at Lyons & Associates will help you find a way to divide frequent flyer miles that works for your circumstances.
What is it about frequent flyer miles and other types of loyalty currency that makes them so tricky?
- The cash value of frequent flyer miles is notoriously difficult to pin down, since the price of airline tickets and the number of loyalty miles required for purchase change often without warning.
- In many loyalty programs, the customer does not actually own the miles according to the member agreement. The miles actually belong to the airline, hotel, etc., and the member only has the right to use them, not gift them to anyone (at least not without paying a fee).
- The fee charged to transfer miles from one person to another is usually extremely high, and sometimes higher than paying cash for the plane ticket, hotel room, or other so-called perk.
With all these quirks, what are some successful – and unsuccessful – strategies for dividing frequent flyer miles in a divorce?
- Negotiate a cash payment agreement from the spouse who “owns” the miles to the spouse who does not.
- The spouse who “owns” the miles agrees to make them available for use to the other spouse after the divorce. This solution comes with a host of additional problems, as told by frequent flyers in the article “Death, Divorce and Miles,” published in Inside Flyer magazine.
- The spouses mutually agree that the miles will only be used for the benefit of joint children.
- The court might be convinced to issue a court order to the frequent flyer program, ordering it to split the miles between two accounts, so long as the spouses pay the required fee.
Contact Lyons & Associates for Answers to Questions About Division of Property in New Jersey Divorces
At the Somerville family law firm of Lyons & Associates, we bring a high level of personalized service and attention to each of our clients, in every family law case we handle. We will work with you to resolve your property division questions, including unique issues like frequent flyer miles or other loyalty currency accounts. To schedule an appointment, contact us online or call our office at 908-575-9777.