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Family Formation

Adoption

As Past President of the California Academy of Adoption Lawyers/ California Academy of Family Formation Attorneys, Diane Goodman is a leading expert in the field of same-sex parenting. Ms. Goodman has successfully handled hundreds of traditional adoptions, adult adoptions and step-parent adoptions.

The Law & Mediation Office of Diane M. Goodman assists couples in creating families by adoption, screening potential birth parents and providing guidance on significant but often overlooked issues such as allowable birth mother expenses and identifying potential birth fathers.

We also prepare the paperwork necessary to terminate an absent parent’s parental rights when needed to complete an adoption.

We are available to assist parents with the adoption of children born in the state of California and those children born out of state as well.

It is important that same sex couples having children obtain either an adoption decree or a court order of parentage for their parental rights to be recognized by the federal government or in many other states because recognition of parentage varies from state to state. Therefore, it is important to complete an adoption, even if the parents are married or Registered Domestic Partners. Another reason for same sex couples to do an adoption is to terminate any potential rights of a known sperm donor.

Click here for a copy of Diane Goodman’s article on the importance of court orders for same sex parents.

Click here to see Diane Goodman on ABC news speaking about the importance of court orders of parentage for same-sex parents.

As of 2015, Married and Registered Domestic Partner same-sex couples will no longer have to complete a home study as long as the child was born during the marriage/RDP. Additionally, a judge is now authorized to grant these adoptions without a hearing.

Egg Donation and Sperm Donation

We assist couples in creating legal family relationships for their children. We prepare surrogacy, adoption, egg and sperm donation agreements. We also provide mediation services to help determine who will be the legal parents, making the process of family formation more clear.

Egg Donation agreements are required by most doctors before procedures begin. We clarify the status of parental rights, particularly the rights that the donor is giving up. In same sex ova donation agreements we specify that both the donor and the gestational carrier will share parental rights.

An important note on a California Supreme Court Decision: The Supreme Court has ruled that lesbians living together, one of whom had provided the egg, and the other of whom had given birth, are both legal parents of the resulting child.
(KM vs. EG (2005) 37 Cal 4th 130)

When you are using a known sperm donor, it is important to have a written agreement with that donor before the child is conceived. There are now simplified forms in the Family Code for parties to sign indicating whether or not the man who contributes his sperm will be a parent or not. There is also a form for lesbian couples to use where one is carrying a child conceived with the other’s egg to provide that both will be parents. However, these forms are very basic. We draft comprehensive agreements to determine the legal status of the parents and clarify the intent of who will or will not be a parent prior to conception. This is imperative so that the parties may avoid disputes later about what the donor’s intent was.

Finally, we clarify the role of surrogates in helping families create children and provide legal recognition of parentage for the intended parents while terminating the parental rights of the surrogate.

Judgment of parentage

We assist with the paperwork to obtain judgments of parentage from the court confirming that the intended parents of children conceived by assisted reproduction are the legal parents.

Guardianship

Sometimes a child can’t continue to live with their parents and another person has to step in to take care of them. Diane Goodman assists caretakers (grandparents, aunts/uncles, and non-relatives) in obtaining guardianship of the children in their home. If the children were born in another country, Ms. Goodman works closely with immigration attorneys in obtaining special immigrant juvenile status orders allowing a foreign child to remain in this country legally with their guardians, when they cannot return to their home country.