In 2012, Washington County Circuit Judge Keith Raines ruled that a woman identified as A.L.C. needed to change her two-year-old son’s last name from her last name to her ex-husband Curtis Stoecklin’s last name, arguing that she only made the decision because she was angry at Stoecklin after he was convicted of fourth-degree assault against her.
Sheesh. Women are crazy, huh?
The couple married in 2011 and A.L.C. quickly became pregnant. Stoecklin, in turn, quickly became abusive. The Oregonian Live lays out their history:
The husband started secretly recording his wife’s cell phone calls, police were called to the couple’s home several times and the couple separated, the appeals court states.The wife obtained a restraining order against her husband in February 2012. A week and a half later, she gave birth to their son…
And wouldn’t you know it, she chose to give her baby her last name instead of his. Even though, according to Stoecklin’s attorney, the couple apparently made some kind of pinkie swear during their marriage that the baby would have Stoecklin’s name. And what good are any of us if we don’t keep our promises, right? The two ended up divorcing when their son was five months old, and two months later Stoecklin petitioned Judge Raines to change the baby’s last name to his.
Here I am going to use quotes from Raines’ decision at length because you really, really need to read all of this.
The first and foremost factor that I’m looking at here is that there was an agreement that the child’s name was going to be (the father’s last name) before the child was born, and [m]other changed that because she was angry. ”¦(T)he reality is that the name was chosen not out of love and joy, but out of hurt and anger and shock. And so we end up with the child not bearing the name that was originally planned for the child to have.
That’s in the best interest of the child — that keeps [f]ather from being disincorporated or disenfranchised from the child. And that’s what it should’ve been and would’ve been but for [f]ather’s foolish abuse of [m]other and his very foolish recording. And you know, it was creepy behavior, Mom. It was creepy. You’re right.
Are you done screaming yet?
Let’s talk out a few pieces of this bullshit. First of all, the fact that this judge disregarded this woman’s choice because she was “hurt” and “angry” smacks of misogyny and a complete lack of respect for a woman’s ability to make the right choice for herself. He might as well have said, “She was a little miffed at the time (you know how women get) so we can’t really trust any decisions she made. You poor girl. Don’t worry, we’ll fix it.”
Second, the idea that the only name she could have given her baby out of “love and joy” is the father’s is insane. There wasn’t a whole lot of “love and joy” going on there. And how does giving her child her own name confer that there is any less love and joy? And oh my God I think I just hurt myself from being angry too hard.
Third, a child having his father’s last name does not keep him from being “disincorporated or disenfranchised” from his subsidiary…I mean his baby. What you’re thinking of, Judge Raines, is a mark of ownership that this man can point to for proof that he is the child’s father. How about we let him behave his way into that role and earn a lasting place in his child’s life that way?
Finally, please hold my earrings, my ponytail holder, and my belt, but let me keep my sharp and pointy ring when I talk about the use of the words “foolish” and “creepy” to describe domestic violence. Except that I can’t talk about it, because I can’t find any words to express my disbelief and fury at this man’s – this judge’s – utter lack of understanding of what abuse is. And then he called her “Mom.” I’ve got nothing but open-mouth, wide-eye head shaking to say.
Luckily for A.L.C, last week a three-judge panel in the Court of Appeals overturned Raines’ ruling, allowing her to change her child’s name back to her own. So thank you to Judges Darleen Ortega, Joel DeVore, and Chris Garrett for their masterful use of common sense.
(Photo: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock)