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How travel points factor into property division

For individuals who travel frequently for business or pleasure, racking up significant levels of frequent flyer miles can lead to big rewards. These travel points can be redeemed for free flights, hotel stays, vacation packages and other rewards. In many cases, California travelers hoard their points, watching the balance climb and daydreaming about a future luxury vacation free of charge. When a divorce occurs before that vacation is achieved, those travel points can become a matter of contention within the property division process.

Travel points have value, and are considered assets within the California divorce process. While a few thousand points hold very little to fight about, once the balance climbs into the hundreds of thousands the value rises significantly. This is a property division topic that enters into many divorce proceedings within the state.

The first step in addressing the issue is to identify all frequent travel accounts and the points held within. Next, it is necessary to place a value on those points. In some cases an airline can give account holders a dollar value for their point total. In other cases, it may be necessary to estimate the value of the points based on the relative value of the rewards that could be gained by redeeming them.

When it comes to actually dividing the points, California couples may have several options. It may be possible to simply divide the points and transfer half into the account of the other spouse. In cases in which the issuing company does not allow this type of transfer, another solution is required. Travel points can be negotiated in the same manner as any other asset, as long as an agreement can be reached between the parties. If all else fails, a judge can be asked to make a determination concerning this aspect of property division.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce Air Wars," Stann Givens, April 27, 2013

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