Who Keeps the Golf Club Membership in a Divorce?

The golf club is where you and your kids relax with friends-it is where you belong. So when you go through a divorce, does one partner get to continue enjoying the benefits while the other spouse misses out? Or is the membership something they must share or divide? How can you place an economic value on something with so much emotional worth?

Your Membership is Likely to be Treated as Marital Property

In Ohio, unless you established it before you married, your golf club membership will probably be treated like any other marital property by a divorce court. That means it would be divided equitably or as the court deems fair based on the circumstances.

It is crucial to ensure that your divorce attorney values this asset correctly, taking into account any appreciation in value, pre-payments, bonds, and ownership interests that may be involved. More importantly, consider the value of the golf membership personally. Would you be willing to give up another asset to retain access to the club? If so, your attorney could negotiate to ensure that this is one part of your life that does not need to change after divorce.

The Terms of the Club Membership Agreement Can Be Critical

You are probably not the first members to divorce in the history of your club. The terms of your club membership agreement may address what happens when members are no longer together, or it may specify that the club will honor the arrangement of the terms in a couple’s separation agreement.

While some clubs allow both spouses to retain memberships, other club rules call for the membership to remain with the person listed as the primary member. Associate members may not be permitted to form their own membership. Analyzing the effect of the club membership agreement and the associated rules should be the first step in determining what will happen with your club membership.

Valuing an Intangible Asset Like Membership

The value of your golf club membership can be measured in economic terms based on the amounts invested and needed to recreate your current status. However, for most members, the access to golf and other recreational facilities that are part of your club has a substantial intangible value.

It is helpful to know how much you and your spouse prize the membership. If membership is more important to your spouse than to you, your divorce attorney may be able to use that information as a bargaining chip to help you obtain other assets that mean more to you. On the other hand, if you wish to continue with life in your club, you may need to determine what you’d be willing to trade to make that a reality. You could then ensure that your attorney incorporates the terms appropriately in your separation agreement.

Help with Golf Club Memberships in Divorce

Dividing assets in divorce is a task that can be tricky and fraught with emotion. Working with an experienced and compassionate legal advisor can make the process much more manageable.