When you belong to a private club, a substantial part of your social life may revolve around the time you and your family spend there. This is especially true if the club offers activities such as golf, tennis or swimming. And you likely invested considerable money in the membership.
So what happens when you get a divorce? To an outsider, the question of “who gets the membership” may seem inconsequential, but it can have a profound impact on your life after the dust settles.
If you have a membership, it is worth spending some time to consider the importance of maintaining it. If you want to remain a member of the club, make sure your divorce attorney understands that it is a priority for you. It’s also important to consider whether you can afford membership obligations on your own.
First Step -Review the Membership Terms
When you signed your membership contract with the club, you agreed to abide by certain terms. It’s likely that those membership terms have something to say about what happens in the event of a divorce. Membership agreements in some clubs specify that the membership remains with the spouse listed as the primary member. Some agreements prohibit non-primary members (i.e., the other spouse) from forming their own memberships. Others allow the non-primary member spouse to become a member in their own right, but only if the primary member agrees and the non-primary member spouse is able to gain the approval of the membership committee. It is important to review the terms of your membership agreement to find out what restrictions may apply when handling the membership in divorce.
If you and your spouse agree that both of you may remain club members in the future, there may be terms you want to address in your divorce negotiations such as whether and when new romantic partners can be brought to the club or how expenses incurred when the children are there will be shared by the parties.
The Membership as Marital Property
In addition to addressing who keeps or can acquire a membership in a private club, there may also be a value that needs to be considered. Assuming money either spouse earned during the marriage was used to pay the initial membership fees and ongoing monthly dues, any remaining financial interests in the membership will be considered marital property under New York law. If it’s agreed that one spouse will remain the member of the club, that spouse will likely be obligated to pay the other spouse 50% of the existing financial interest.
Work with a Divorce Attorney Who Can Help You Decide Who Keeps the Club Membership
If you want the club to be part of your life after your divorce, and the rules allow it, your attorney will work toward that goal. Additionally, your attorney will help ensure that you receive equivalent value for your membership interest.
At Vacca Family Law Group, we know that all aspects of a couple’s life together need to be considered both separately and as part of the whole when helping couples develop divorce agreements that meet their needs. To find out how we can protect your interests in divorce or with a postnuptial agreement during the marriage, contact us today.