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. Diane 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 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 or anyone who uses donor eggs or sperm 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. Some states only recognize the rights of biological parents. A Birth Certificate is not required to be recognized in other states, but a court order must be recognized by all states (See V.L. v. E.L. , 2016, 577 U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 1017, 194 L.Ed. 2d 92). Therefore, it is important to complete an adoption, even if the parents are married or Registered Domestic Partners for parentage to be recognized in all states. Another reason for same sex couples or those using donor eggs or sperm to do an adoption is to terminate any potential rights of a known egg or 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 Partners seeking to adopt their spouse's child, for purposes of full faith and credit in all states, 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, prior to conception, to eliminate misunderstandings and/or litigation later.

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 confirm the legal status of the intended parents and the non-parent status of the donor. A donor agreement clarifies 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.

Surrogacy

When using a gestational carrier to have a child in California, it is required that all parties be represented by counsel. We draft surrogacy agreements to clarify the rights and obligations of all parties prior to conception that comply with California law. Prior to the birth of the child, we prepare and file with the court a parentage action ordering that the Intended Parents are the legal parents of the child due to be born to the gestational carrier.

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 and that the donor is not a parent.

Guardianship

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

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