Our Blog

Is One Spouse Required to Take the Other's Surname?

When a couple gets officially married, you are probably used to seeing the woman take her new husband’s surname. And when that occurs, some of you are probably wondering, is that a required thing to do?

The answer to that question is, no. Women are entitled to their maiden name. However, it is generally a tradition or custom to take on the husband’s surname.

Depending on the state you live in, there can be a statutory authority regarding name change upon marriage. In some states, the woman usually has several options. She can use her birth surname, her spouse’s surname, or a combination of both her surname and her spouse’s surname (which is generally hyphenated).

There are, however, a few states that won’t allow a woman those options. When she is married, she is essentially required as a wife to take her husband’s surname.

If a woman would like to take her spouse’s surname, it us not just an easy 1-2-3 step process. Again, depending on the state that you reside in, they will provide a name change procedure for you. Usually, an individual will be required to fill out an application or petition that will be filed with the courts.

The application will ask for general information such as: the legal name, the name the person wishes to take on, birthdate, age, etc. Name change applications generally take a while to be processed, but it is usually very rare that an application is denied. If you have legitimate reasons for wanting to do a name change, your request will likely be granted.

Now you all are probably wondering, what about a divorce? Do I get to keep my surname or do I have to go back to my maiden name? The answer to that question is, it is completely up to you. The woman has the choice of taking back her maiden name or keeping her married surname.

Protecting Kids From Combative Ex

Many people believe that a divorce will end the issues they had in their marriage and life will become easy. Unfortunately, many of those issues are still around if you’re co-parenting and many other issues car arise from trying to deal with your ex. If you’re dealing with a combative ex, you’re going to face challenges. But psychologist Sherrie Campbell offers these tips to deal with the situation:

  1. Brief Communication: keep your conversations with him/her factual and brief. Be thorough enough to communicate what you need to, but don’t be superficial or emotional.
  2. Don’t talk finances. Eliminate money talk with your children altogether. They don’t need to know those details and there’s rarely anything they can do about it, so keep that stress above their heads.
  3. Privacy: try to communicate via email. Keep your lives separate and keep your children away from someone that may be emotionally harmful to them.
  4. Respecting schedules: stick to the custodial schedule. Try not to switch weekends or ask your ex for a “favor.” You don’t want to owe him/her anything and you want your kids to have consistency.
  5. Remove tension for the kids: If you and your ex can’t be in the same room without drama, don’t go. Or figure out a way to support your kids to the best of your ability without high-tension environments.
  6. You do you. Worry about your own life and let your ex be free to live as he/she wishes. Mind your own business but mindful or your child’s emotions.

About Dayn Holstrom

Dayn Holstrom is a hard working, compassionate problem solver who welcomes the opportunity to serve you in any way he can. His maximum availability to your questions and concerns begins with your free initial consultation. He is well-seasoned in all matters related to family law and a skilled negotiator and litigator.

Planning for College as a Divorced Parent

Everyone is aware of how expensive colleges/universities are in Southern California, and even in Riverside/Corona, and there are many general self-help guides for parents to help plan. What about divorced parents? A recent article by Geoff Williams in Reuters discusses a few tips for divorced parents trying to plan for their child’s education. We share his tips below.

Childcare financial planning for divorced parents is a piece of cake compared to figuring out who will pay what in college. Here are a few tips for divorced or separated parents with kids that off to college:

  1. Negotiate college during the divorce. No one forgets custody schedules, spousal support, etc. when going through a divorce. But paying for college seems to be one thing many couples forget—and it’s not a small oversight. Some universities are $200,000+ for four years. That’s not the type of money you want to fight over a few years after your divorce has calmed down. Our attorneys will remind clients to discuss paying for college, but if yours don’t (like many), be sure to bring it up.
  2. Secure a college fund. If you’ve been saving for your child’s education, you need to ensure that those funds are only used for the education—and a divorce can make anything messy. Worst-case scenario (and it has happened)… your husband/wife could actually use that money to help pay for the attorney helping him/her divorce you. So be very careful and make sure the college funds are in accounts specified and out of reach.
  3. Discuss aid forms. The FAFSA will only need to know the income/information of the parent that child spends more time with, and that person’s current spouse if applicable. If a child splits time equally, he/she should fill out the form with the parent with the lower income. This will help your child earn more federal grant/loan money!

Splitting college funds is tough and it rarely works out perfectly even. Aim for “good,” not perfect. It usually isn’t worth fighting over if it’s reasonably fair.

About Dayn Holstrom

Dayn Holstrom is a hard working, compassionate problem solver who welcomes the opportunity to serve you in any way he can. His maximum availability to your questions and concerns begins with your free initial consultation. He is well-seasoned in all matters related to family law and a skilled negotiator and litigator.

Can I Keep My Airline Miles?

Reaching a divorce settlement agreement is mostly about dividing marital assets. After all, there’s the home, vehicles, bank accounts, stock portfolios, cash, art, etc.

And, then some of you who are in the process of getting a divorce might be wondering who gets certain marital assets like airline miles. This might seem a bit trivial, but it also can be important to those who fly frequently.

Some of you might think that something like airline miles seems trivial compared to other marital assets like real estate, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, furniture and vehicles. However, for those of you who spend a lot of time flying, those airline miles could really pay off and help you save money. Hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles can help contribute to numerous travel trips.

So, how exactly do the airline miles get sorted out? The first step you should take when attempting to divide airline miles is to check the rewards program’s terms and conditions. For example, some programs specifically state in their terms and conditions that points cannot be transferred from one spouse to another in a divorce settlement.

If this is the case, it may be wise to assign a value to the rewards points and then negotiate something of equal value. There may be other ways to divide the miles. Some programs provide cash outs for points, in which case you can collect the cash and then split it. Maybe you can see if the program will divide the points into two separate accounts.

When it comes to negotiating a divorce settlement, airline miles really do come down to money. Think this through completely; don’t be hasty about your decision. If you make a good financial move elsewhere, you might just find you can still take a special trip that you will enjoy.

If you’re going through a divorce and have questions regarding dividing your assets, including your frequent flyer miles, a family law attorney might be able to help you come to a divorce settlement that you can both agree to.

Contact the family law office of Holstrom, Sissung, Marks & Anderson, located in Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. We might be able to help you negotiate issues such as division of property, child custody, child support and spousal support in a more amicable manner than you would have otherwise.


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.