Why Was This Mom Forced To Give Child Her Abuser’s Name?

Curtis Stoecklin's son will not carry his last name, an Appeals Court has ruled


The 1950s called and they want their misogyny back.

A judge, a man charged with interpreting the law and making decisions on behalf of the state, determined that abuse “creepy” behaviour, that an angry woman can’t make a logical decision and that a man can’t establish a real bond with his child if said child doesn’t bear his last name. Never mind that the father has no role in the child’s life and abused his mother while she was gestating.

In 2012, Washington County Circuit Judge Keith Raines decided to enforce an order that a woman change the name on her son’s birth certificate to include her ex-husband’s last name.

Curtis Stoecklin, the only name listed in full in the documents, really wanted his abused ex-wife’s (known in the paperwork as A.L.C.) child to carry his name. Stoecklin petitioned the court, and Judge Raines, to insist it be changed back in 2012. Earlier this week a judge (of sound mind overturned) the decision, because, well, it was epic levels of wrong, inappropriate, paternalistic and downright misogynist.

The records show that shortly after they were wed in 2011, Stoecklin’s marriage to A.L.C. deteriorated.

“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.”

When their son was born just a couple of weeks after the restraining order was issued, A.L.C. gave her son her last name on his birth certificate. Stoecklin was not at the boy's birth. But when the baby was seven months old, Stoecklin petitioned the judge to change the name on the birth certificate and Raines gave his ruling in Stoeklin's defense in October of the same year.  

The following is an excerpt from the original decision. I’m posting it at length because, it’s that, what’s the word? Crazy!

“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,” Raines said. “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.

“The child is young enough [that the] child has not really used a last name effectively anywhere except the doctor has some chart,” Raines continued. “And maybe the school has some chart. But those are easily changed.

“That's in the best interest of the child -- that keeps [f]ather from being disincorporated or disenfranchised from the child,” Raines said. “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.”

The Oregon Court of Appeals took issue with Raines’ opinion of what was in the best interests of the boy. You mean a name alone can’t force a bond?

“Development of a bond, as we have recognized, comes from the 'love and devotion' that a parent exhibits toward his child,” the Appeals Court wrote.

Oregon Live reported that the court also considered that the boy will be raised by his mother, who was given sole custody when the couple divorced when the baby was just 5 months old.

Big thanks to appeals Court judges Darleen Ortega, Joel DeVore and Chris Garrett for bringing some sense into a nonsensical ruling.

The original ruling makes my head spin, as a woman, as a mother, as a wife and as a human being. A.L.C. picked her own last name because she was mad? Really? It couldn’t be because she was going to be the sole parent raising the child and the father had zero ownership beyond the contribution of his sperm?

Since when does fathering a child make a man a father? Being a father is a role. An active one. If Stoecklin wanted to be a father he could have made an effort in the child’s life. Having his name means zilch, zero, nada.

Judge Raines felt it was unfair for the child to have his mother’s name, because that wasn’t the name she and Stoecklin had previously agreed upon.

“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?” wrote Meredith Bland for Mommyish.

The joke of course is that Judge Raines, in his decision, gave the child his mother’s last name as her son’s middle name. That seemed to be sufficient for Stoecklin. Even though that wasn’t the name they agreed upon before the baby was born either.

Now that the decision has been reversed, maybe Stoecklin would be best to refocus his efforts from his son having his name to his son having his father.

And perhaps Judge Raines would be best to rethink his stand on abused women, or you know, women in general.

Sometimes we make decisions because they make sense. Even if we’re in a bad mood. Crazy, but true. 

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