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Does UA allow miles from one account to be divided up 50/50 under divorce settlement?

Does UA allow miles from one account to be divided up 50/50 under divorce settlement?

 
Old Jan 6, 06, 9:05 pm
  #1  
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Does UA allow miles from one account to be divided up 50/50 under divorce settlement?

Does UA allow miles from one account to be
divided up 50/50 under divorce settlement?

A business partner is currently going through
a divorce. The couple pretty much agree to
split EVERYTHING equally, 50/50. The divorce
is nearly final, except for the 950,000 miles in
a UA MileagePlus account.

If UA does not allow for the 950,000 miles to
be divided in half, is there a way to establish
a fair dolloar value for half of those miles?
barefootflying is offline  
Old Jan 6, 06, 9:12 pm
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The MP rules seem to state that MP rules are not regarded as property in a divorce, so there might be a small inequity in this settlement in so far as the miles seem to belong to the account holder in toto...but then again, I'm not an attorney so YBP'sMMV (so to speak)

From the Rules for the Mileage Plus Program

7. Accrued mileage and certificates do not constitute property of the member. Neither accrued mileage nor certificates are transferable (i) upon death, (ii) as part of a domestic relations matter, or (iii) otherwise by operation of law.

BTW, aren't you the person who began the now legendary, "do people stash the naughty mags in behind the drawers in hotels rooms?" thread?

Last edited by ButIsItArt; Jan 6, 06 at 9:15 pm
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Old Jan 6, 06, 9:14 pm
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This is pretty easy. The property settlement should stipulate that the account holder owes the other party awards of her choice (subject of course to availability from UA and the other T&C of MP) equal to 475,000 miles as of the date of divorce, to be used within a stipulated time frame. As ButIsItArt notes, MP will not recognize any such claim - it's a matter for the parties to settle w/o help from UAMP.
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Old Jan 6, 06, 10:09 pm
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Originally Posted by ButIsItArt
The MP rules seem to state that MP rules are not regarded as property in a divorce, so there might be a small inequity in this settlement in so far as the miles seem to belong to the account holder in toto...but then again, I'm not an attorney so YBP'sMMV (so to speak)

From the Rules for the Mileage Plus Program

7. Accrued mileage and certificates do not constitute property of the member. Neither accrued mileage nor certificates are transferable (i) upon death, (ii) as part of a domestic relations matter, or (iii) otherwise by operation of law.

BTW, aren't you the person who began the now legendary, "do people stash the naughty mags in behind the drawers in hotels rooms?" thread?
I want to be able to write contracts that state "the law doesn't apply".

Yeah, that'll work in a court of law.
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Old Jan 6, 06, 10:22 pm
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How about dividing them in 1/2... all in one-way tickets instead of roundtrips out of here?

A friend of mine went through a similar predicament and UAL couldn't or wouldn't do anything. Whenever she wants to fly, she looks it up and calls my friend to book her tickets. Both share passwords to their MP accounts and the divorce was amicable.
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Old Jan 6, 06, 11:34 pm
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Originally Posted by Sneezy
I want to be able to write contracts that state "the law doesn't apply".

Yeah, that'll work in a court of law.
No, the law of contracts will apply. The contract between MP and its members provides inter alia that accrued miles are not freely alienable, and a court would likely uphold that provision. If miles were the member's to freely dispose of as he/she pleased, then they could sell them to others with no fear of forfeiture and closure of their MP account.

This indivisibility of UA miles may be another reason to avoid divorce, if possible. But one cannot avoid death. Does UA not permit miles to go to heirs? I know from personal experience that US does, or at least did.

The question of valuation of miles for purposes of a divorce settlement is an interesting one, since no marketplace to establish the value and arguably so variable according to whose hands they are in and the uses they would be put to.
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Old Jan 7, 06, 12:38 am
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Originally Posted by Sneezy
I want to be able to write contracts that state "the law doesn't apply".

Yeah, that'll work in a court of law.


Miles are kinda like IP. How can you divide IP in 1/2?? They are fictional tjhoughts that make people feel happy, but have no $ value. I am a UGS when it comes to warm fuzzies, but I can't redeem them for free flights


To say that the warm fuzzies I have given you and your spouse must be divided equally in a divorce, and if not, is illegal, is absurd. Noone can regulate my warm fuzzies, except me!
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Old Jan 7, 06, 3:12 am
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Originally Posted by itsme
Does UA not permit miles to go to heirs?
There is testimony in this forum that UA has transfered account balances to heirs.

I don't recall mention of certs being included, nor do I recall any cases of the heir having a different family name (e.g. a domestic partner).
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Old Jan 7, 06, 5:09 am
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Not sure about heirs, but I do know that UA will transfer MP balances to spouses of the deceased. Had a relative recently pass away. UA sent a form for the wife to fill out. She had to pay a $75 processing fee and had to send a copy of the death certificate. 2 weeks later, the MP balance was transferred to her account.
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Old Jan 7, 06, 7:07 am
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Originally Posted by Sneezy
I want to be able to write contracts that state "the law doesn't apply". Yeah, that'll work in a court of law.
That's about as good an example of circular legal logic as the woman who sued after tripping over an orange traffic cone that had been placed as a warning device. In so many words, the woman claimed that the municipality that placed the cone as form of warning had a duty to warn her that the cone itself was a hazard over which she might trip.

The Court disagreed: "The Court finds that the orange traffic cones were open and obvious as a matter of law because they were placed on the streets and in fact visible. Indeed, the cones are bright orange in order to make them obvious. Moreover, the Court also finds that the Defendants could not have anticipated harm from the cones because traffic cones are, themselves, warning markers. Therefore, the Defendants had no duty to warn of their existence."

Engleson v. Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce
United States District Court, D. Minnesota
2002 WL 31689432

Here endeth the FlyerTalk legal minute.
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Old Jan 7, 06, 9:25 am
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Scary

I'm getting married soon and all this talk of splitting miles scares the heck out of me!

I'm truely confused- You can only earn miles for flights you fly; you can't have you wife's miles deposited in your own MP account. Wouldn't that mean the wife keeps any miles she earned in her own account and the husband keeps mile he earned in his account???
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Old Jan 7, 06, 9:40 am
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Originally Posted by mimitche
I'm truely confused- You can only earn miles for flights you fly; you can't have you wife's miles deposited in your own MP account. Wouldn't that mean the wife keeps any miles she earned in her own account and the husband keeps mile he earned in his account???
That's exactly what I was thinking! Miles are under your own individual name aren't they? Am I missing something here? Do MP accounts differ for married couples?
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Old Jan 7, 06, 11:07 am
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Originally Posted by itsme
No, the law of contracts will apply. The contract between MP and its members provides inter alia that accrued miles are not freely alienable, and a court would likely uphold that provision. If miles were the member's to freely dispose of as he/she pleased, then they could sell them to others with no fear of forfeiture and closure of their MP account.

...
I was commenting on the "otherwise by operation of law" clause.

I don't see how that could hold up as a blanket restriction.
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Old Jan 7, 06, 2:06 pm
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Do the phrases "community property" or "equitable distribtuion of property" mean anything to you [depending on the state you are in]?

If they don't, you better find a good family law lawyer and have a frank discussion--without your fiance being there--far in advance of the marriage date.

Sounds like you are in for some real surprises, or you will be if there is a dissolution of the marriage.

Originally Posted by mimitche
I'm getting married soon and all this talk of splitting miles scares the heck out of me!

I'm truely confused- You can only earn miles for flights you fly; you can't have you wife's miles deposited in your own MP account. Wouldn't that mean the wife keeps any miles she earned in her own account and the husband keeps mile he earned in his account???
Always Flyin is offline  
Old Jan 7, 06, 2:15 pm
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Originally Posted by Sneezy
I was commenting on the "otherwise by operation of law" clause.

I don't see how that could hold up as a blanket restriction.
How would things be any different if UA had gone no further with its "Rules for the Mileage Plus Program" than to state as they did, "Accrued mileage and certificates do not constitute property of the member."? It seems to me they would be in no way different, and thus "otherwise by operation of law" might be regarded as "surplussage." (We can charge more for the big words.)

If someone dies without leaving a will to say how their property is to be disposed of, then the state will direct the disposition of decedent's property according to the law, that is "by operation of law." UA is underscoring or clarifying "(a)ccrued mileage and certificates do not constitute property of the member" with the following sentence saying they will not be "transferable (i) upon death, (ii) as part of a domestic relations matter, or (iii) otherwise by operation of law."

Notwithstanding that mileage is not "transferrable...upon death," others have said that UA does indeed transfer mileage upon death. Whether a court could compel them to do so if they were not so inclined and chose to rely on their "rules" to refuse, I don't know. I would bet that a divorce court could not compel them to divide the miles between the MP+ accounts of divorcing spouses.
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