Stoecklin and A. L. C.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Family Law
  • Date Filed: 10-01-2014
  • Case #: A153768
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. for the Court; DeVore, J.; and Garrett, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The party petitioning the court for the name change of a child has the burden to establish the name change is in the best interest of the child.

Mother appealed judgment changing son's last name from her's to that of his father's. Mother and father were separated before the birth of their son. When son was born, Mother gave him her last name. Mother and father divorced, and father petitioned the court to change the son's last name to his. The trial court decided to grant father's petition based on the following three factors: (1) there had been an "agreement" between mother and father that the child would have father's last name; (2) mother's choice to give the child her own last name, despite that original understanding, was made out of "hurt and anger"; and (3) providing the child with father's last name would prevent father "from being disincorporated or disenfranchised from the child." Mother appealed, arguing that too much emphasis was placed on the agreement between mother and father before their abusive relationship began. Preference of the custodial parent also weighs heavily in determining the best interest of the child. Here, the mother is the custodial parent. Father, as the petitioner, has the burden of establishing the name change is in the best interest of the child. The trial court did not adequately explain its conclusions for granting father's petition. Reversed.

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