Appearance can't mask reality
If you think your family dynamics were chaotic over the holidays, consider the case of Shawnna Hughes. She's the Spokane woman who was refused a divorce because she's pregnant...
Seattle Times staff columnist
If you think your family dynamics were chaotic over the holidays, consider the case of Shawnna Hughes.
She's the Spokane woman who was refused a divorce because she's pregnant by a man who is not her husband.
Spokane Superior Court Judge Paul Bastine has apparently decided there are enough bastards in the world and ruled that when Hughes' baby is born, it should be to a married woman.
No matter that Hughes' estranged husband, Carlos, was jailed in 2002 for beating her.
No matter that Hughes filed for divorce — uncontested — last April.
No matter that the baby belongs to the boyfriend Hughes hopes to marry before she gives birth in March.
Bastine doesn't want anything cut before the umbilical cord.
Hughes' lawyer, Terri Sloyer, is appealing.
It's an interesting case with which to kick off the new year, when polls are showing we are sick of the love 'em-and-sleaze 'em of Britney and Paris.
Are we so sick of it, though, that we are going back to a Culture of Appearances?
(Mom may have a couple of black eyes, sure. But in the eyes of the law, her baby will be legitimate.)
Bastine believes the rights of the unborn override a woman's right to divorce; a 1981 state Supreme Court decision allowed courts to put a divorce on hold until issues of child custody are resolved.
"It's not the child's fault that mom got pregnant," Bastine said at a November hearing after which he rescinded Hughes' divorce. "The answer is, you don't go around doing that when you're not divorced."
So does that mean that when you're married, you go around letting your husband beat the crap out of you?
I understand Bastine's trying to put the brakes on a society that would rather keep driving than pull over and think, much less glance in the rearview mirror.
There were 27,205 divorces in Washington state in 2002. (There were also 39,518 marriages, so hope officially springs eternal.)
Here is a judge using one divorce to say enough is enough.
But he couldn't have chosen a worse one for making his pious point.
Sure, it would have been nice if Hughes had waited until her first family was legally, properly dispensed with before starting another.
But "properly" goes out the window when that woman is being physically abused.
So I wonder: Is Bastine really looking out for the baby? Because it doesn't seem smart to give a wife-beater any kind of rights or access to mother and child.
Hughes may not have made the best choice before, or even this time.
She stated in court records that her boyfriend, Chauncey Jacques, pleaded guilty to a gang-related shooting that blinded an elderly man.
But she is choosing to start over. To stop her in the name of appearances, well, that we can see right through.
Reach Nicole Brodeur at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
She'd stick with her sock monkey.
About Nicole Brodeur
My column is more a conversation with readers than a spouting of my own views. I like to think that, in writing, I lay down a bridge between readers and me. It is as much their space as mine. And it is a place to tell the stories that, otherwise, may not get into the paper.
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