Divorce and United Miles

Old Oct 8, 03, 10:28 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Divorce and United Miles

Has anyone successfully transferred United miles to an ex-spouse's account? If so, how and who did you contact? Was it the result of an "exception to the rule", as they have done in the case of deceased memebers miles?
FlyBill is offline  
Old Oct 9, 03, 1:11 am
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Usually legal documents would encourage ANYONE to comply with the requirements. If this was a stated declaration and subject to your division of assets, I am sure MP would work with you. If it is not part of your divorce decree, I would not expect them to jump through hoops or make exceptions.
Luvs2snowbordbut1kSEA is offline  
Old Oct 9, 03, 1:42 pm
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It's not clear what you preferred answer is ("it's impossible" or "it's possible"), but there is a technical answer. The MP rules clearly state that the miles are the property of MP, not the member. (It's only the awards that they provide to the member). Therefore in the strictest technical sense, the miles are not any individual's property to offer in settlement, or demand from the other.
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Old Oct 9, 03, 1:46 pm
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I don't get how MP miles can be a "joint" entity. Each person has their own MP #; it's not like you can pool your miles into a family account.
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Old Oct 9, 03, 2:28 pm
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United959 -

Perhaps the most straightforward way to explain the "joint" issue is by reference to community property states. In such states (e.g., California), divorce law generally treats the assets accumulated by spouses during the marriage as being owned jointly, regardless of which spouse has title. In such a situation, the judge might well rule that the miles must be split. Judges in other non-community-property states might rule the same way.

If UA says that UA's policies forbid such a split, the judge would presumably determine how much the spouse that keeps the miles must compensate the other spouse for the half of the miles that can't be transferred.

Thus, the question as to whether they can be transferred is valid and of some interest - perhaps to more of us than one might think!
Dave M is offline  
Old Oct 9, 03, 2:30 pm
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I think the real issue here is not whose property these miles are, but what state the parties live in.

<brushing off old law school books>
There are some states where the assets of the parties obtained by the parties are combined and considered equal regardless of whose name the items are in or who earned them. These are the community property states (LA, CO, WA, CA and a couple others) (exceptions exists for inhertance, gifts, and assets held prior to the start of the marriage)Other states just lump the assets together and then divide by a value. Now mileage plus miles are an asset. The right to obtain free travel/upgrades/ or other services based upon a certain number of miles.

If FlyBill lives in one of these states and is being forced by the distribution to give the miles to the ex then I understand why he must try to give the miles to the ex's account. The reason is then he doesn't have to maintain a minimum balance in the account to provide the benefit to the ex if she ever wishes to exercise the right to free travel.

The end result is that if MP says no, which they can regardless of the court order. (saying that: Miles are the exclusive property of the member, and not subject to distribution by court decree) Then FlyBill would have to keep the balance in his account equal to what he would have to transfer and deduct that ammount each time an award was granted, plus he would have to make the reservations.

That is what I remember from law school, and note that laws and circumstances may cause the above to not be 100% correct, or even totally wrong.

<edited to correct html error>

[This message has been edited by MSY-MSP (edited 10-09-2003).]
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Old Oct 9, 03, 2:52 pm
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I learn so much here--and a special thanks to Dave M.

But just may layman, non-Harvard Law School education in operation...it seems to me that UA miles are very clearly the "property" of the individual. I contend this by posing one simple question-- if a wife wanted to user her husband's miles, could she do so without her husband's consent? If the UA agents follow their rules, I don't think this is possible.

On the converse, I do understand the whole "shared/earned property" concept as I'm a product of two divorces, and with any luck a third one some time soon.

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Old Oct 9, 03, 7:40 pm
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Even in a non-community property state, I have seen miles clearly treated as part of the marital estate. The spouse with the miles was asked to reserve 50% of the mileage balance to be used as the other spouse saw fit in the future (and therefore to make reservations and issue tickets as needed).

The spouse with the miles elected to offer the other spouse 2 cents per mile instead ($2,000 for 100,000 miles in the case at hand). The other spouse accepted.

I was consulted, informally, by the parties as an expert on mileage valuation.

The two lawyers involved indicated that this was a common provision in divorce settlements. In cases with minor children, the spouse with miles is often obligated to use miles for a certain number of trips per year for the children. That's more of a child suport than divorce issue, but I thought I'd mention it.

I am not aware of airlines that will divide an existing account. Some, but not all, airlines will transfer miles upon death to a beneficiary named in a will or other letter of instructions. I have seen this transfer happen after my grandfather's death. I have also known beneficiaries (spouses) to be advised to keep their mouths shut and simply redeem tickets from the deceased's persons account as needed until the account is drained.

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Old Oct 9, 03, 7:57 pm
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"Frequent flyer program? Frequent flyer program? I have no idea what you're talking about honey. Fine. Just keep the house...if that will make you happy."

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Old Oct 9, 03, 9:32 pm
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Don't get me wrong, keep talking, but when this is done can someone give me an executive summary of the results in English?

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