Assisted Reproductive Technology

Lessons Learned from the Jason Patric Case

I’m sure many of you have been following the Jason Patric case in California. Jason Patric was a sperm donor for a woman who wished to have a child. Ultimately a child was born and Mr. Patric, a well known actor, became involved in the child’s life. Problems arose when the child’s mother did not want him to be involved with the child in the future.

This has caused a several year battle as to what are the legal rights of a “sperm donor” with regard to being a legal parent of a child conceived through these methods.

Although the case is still winding its way through the courts in California, there are lessons to be learned. First and foremost is that anytime anyone is contemplating family formation through the use of assisted reproductive technology, an attorney experienced in assisted reproductive technology law should be consulted. It is absolutely essential to have a written document setting forth the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. It is also extremely important that any and all laws of the state where the procedures are to take place are followed to the letter. This is especially true in cases involving a known sperm donor as opposed to an anonymous sperm donor.

As an example, in many states, including New Jersey, the Artificial Insemination Statute specifically dictates that where a child is created from such an arrangement, if the procedure is performed by a doctor or through a medical clinic, the donor shall have no rights, duties, or responsibilities relating to the child. While this could change if the donor ends up serving as a parent under the theory of “psychological parent,” it provides certainty and clarity for all concerned.

Too many times we have seen the situation where individuals, in order to save money, prepare their own agreement and do not go through a clinic, thus resorting to the old “turkey-baster” form of insemination. In those cases, neither the donor nor the recipient receive the benefits and protections of the artificial insemination statute.

Reproductive technology law is in its infancy. Many states do not have any laws that guide this, and some of the states that do have such laws have yet to have them interpreted by the courts. It is therefore absolutely essential that if you are considering family formation through assisted reproductive technology, you contact an attorney experienced in this area of the law, such as a Fellow of the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology attorneys so that we may help you.

Adoption Attorneys in New Jersey

At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests.

Contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ, or in Philadelphia, PA, at (856) 429-5005. We also provide a free initial consultation in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.

Adoption and the Internet

Years ago about the only way to adopt a child was through a licensed adoption agency. That was expanded in most states to allow adoption through a “direct placement.” This is a placement where arrangements are made by the birth mother, and birth father if applicable, with the adopting parents without the assistance of an agency or an intermediary.

Today birth parents and prospective adoptive parents are finding each other through the use of the internet. There are many sites that specifically post profiles of individuals or families seeking to adopt. Birth mothers who visit these sites are then encouraged to contact the families directly.

While this can lead to many successful placements, it also carries certain risks. For the birth parents a concern would be whether or not the birth mother is truly seeking to place a child or is attempting to scam them. For the birth mothers, there is really no guarantee that the profile posted truly represents the family. Some sites require a family to have a home study prior to accepting a posting.

In any event, while these contacts can be made and will likely increase, all parties should consider seeking the assistance of a reputable licensed local adoption agency and/or an attorney experienced in adoption law such as a Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. Once there is contact between a birth parent and a prospective adoptive family, assistance from an adoption professional should be sought immediately in order that everyone’s rights are protected.

Adoption Attorneys in New Jersey

At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests. Contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ, or in Philadelphia, PA, at (856) 429-5005. We also provide a free initial consultation in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.

Accuracy for Adoptee’s Act

Help for Children Adopted Abroad

Around the holidays the US Senate and House of Representatives passed an act to allow the birth certificates of children who were adopted from foreign countries to be corrected, and for the federal government to recognize those corrections so that the child’s birth date would be accurately reflected. President Obama signed it into law just a short time ago and a major problem for these children has now been resolved.

Many children who have been adopted from foreign countries enter the United States with an incorrect date of birth listed on their birth certificates because a date had been arbitrarily assigned to them by the orphanages and that date was often based upon the appearance of the child and was frequently highly inaccurate. The result was that a child entering the United States could well be listed as being three years of age when in fact he or she was actually older by two or more years.

Now, because of this legislation, if a state court is presented with medical and developmental evidence which would indicate an accurate date, an order changing the birth certificate will be recognized by any and all agencies of the federal government. Prior to this act, the federal government would not do so which presented a myriad of problems for these children.

This new law was one of only a handful of laws that had been passed and signed into law during the past year. The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys was instrumental in working with members of Congress in drafting and advocating for this change.

If you have adopted a child who is faced with this problem, contact an experienced adoption attorney such as a Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys for guidance.

Adoption Attorneys in New Jersey

At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests. Contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ, or in Philadelphia, PA, at (856) 429-5005. We also provide a free initial consultation in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.

ADOPTION TAX CREDIT UPDATE

Adoption Tax Credit Made Permanent as of January 2013

Information supplied by Donald C, Cofsky, Esquire

On January 1, 2013, Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 8), and it was signed into law by President Obama on January 2, 2013.

The Adoption Tax Credit was one of the provisions of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) that has now been made PERMANENT. This is a welcome turn of events, since many felt that the best outcome would only be a temporary extension of the credit.

All of the ground rules for the Adoption Tax Credit remained the same as they were for the tax year 2012, except that the amount of the maximum credit increased slightly, as did the amounts of the lower and upper limits of income eligibility. All three of these numbers are adjusted each year in accordance with the cost of living. The IRS typically announces the adjusted numbers before the end of the prior year. The IRS has announced that the maximum credit for 2014 will be $13,190 (up from the 2013 number of $12,970) and that the full credit will be available to taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of $197,889 or less, after which it will begin to phase out, and will not be available once the MAGI reaches $237,880. All of the other provisions remain intact, including (a) the ability to carry the credit forward for up to five years in order to take full advantage of the credit; (b) the ability to claim the maximum amount of the credit (without the need to show actual expenses) for the adoption of a special needs child; and (c) the ability to claim the credit in the case of a failed adoption.

The Adoption Tax Credit, although now permanent, is not a “refundable credit.” It was refundable during 2010 and 2011 through a provision of the health care legislation, but since this provision was not in the 2001 EGTRRA legislation, it is not a part of the current law. Nevertheless, any unused portion of the tax credit can be carried over as a credit against taxes for up to five years so that it may be used in its entirety.

Adoption Attorneys in New Jersey

Contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ, or in Philadelphia, PA, at (856) 429-5005. We provide a free initial consultation in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.

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Donald Cofsky’s practice involving Family Formation includes adoption and assisted reproduction law. He has represented over 1500 families in private, agency, international, and domestic adoptions. He has served as a lecturer at numerous adoption seminars and has worked with the NJ Supreme Court Rules Committee on revisions to the court rules on adoptions. He is the Immediate Past President of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Assisted Reproduction Technology Attorneys. Mr. Cofsky is certified by the Supreme Court of NJ as a Civil Trial Attorney, and has received “A” and “V” ratings by Martindale-Hubbell, its highest for both ability and ethics. In 2005 he was named as an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in Washington, DC.

Same-Sex Adoptions in New Jersey

New Jersey was the first state in the union to adopt a policy stating that couples seeking to adopt children may not be discriminated against due to sexual orientation or marital status. It is one of the easier states in the union for same-sex couples to adopt children in. The standard, appropriately, for adopting a child in New Jersey isn’t about gay or straight. The standard, rather, is what is in the best interests of the child in question.

One way New Jersey same-sex couples can adopt is through a legal process called co-parent adoption or second-parent adoption. This is adoption in which one parent already has legal rights to the child in question. The second parent can then adopt the biological or adopted child of his or her same-sex partner without regard to their marital status.

Same-sex couples who have a baby through artificial reproductive technology, including artificial insemination, or by having a surrogate carry the baby to term may choose to protect their rights to legally parent the child through the co-parent or second-parent adoption process.

Same-Sex Adoption Attorneys in New Jersey

At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests. Contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ, or in Philadelphia, PA, at (856) 429-5005. We also provide a free initial consultation in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.

New Jersey Allows Access for Adoptees to Original Birth Records

On May 27, 2014 New Jersey became one of approximately 10 states to allow adoptees access to their original birth certificates.

Bills had been proposed for well over 15 years in New Jersey, each failing to pass, but recently the Legislature approved one. The Governor conditionally vetoed it in order to provide additional protections for birth parents who placed children prior to its enactment. The Bill was then modified and now provides that for any adoption which has taken or will take place before August 1, 2015, the birth parents may request that their names not be released as part of the original birth certificate. For adoptions thereafter, these records will be available, but only to certain individuals. This would include the adoptee after reaching the age of 18 as well as other specifically named family members.

Along with this is a Contact Preference form. This will allow the birth parent to indicate whether he or she wishes to be contacted once the information is released. It also provides for the method of contact, either through an agency, specifically named intermediary, or by direct contact. It also provides an option for no contact at all.

One of the other important features of this Bill is the request and in some circumstances requirement that updated medical and social background information be supplied to the Office of Vital Statistics so that the adoptee or those permitted to obtain the information will be able to access this which could be very important. There is no requirement, however, that identifying information be included.

For more information about this and its applicability contact an adoption professional, either a local licensed adoption agency in New Jersey or an experienced adoption attorney such as a Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.

Adoption Attorneys in New Jersey

At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests. Contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ, or in Philadelphia, PA, at (856) 429-5005. We also provide a free initial consultation in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.

Adopting a Child Who Has Been Abused

In today’s fast-moving culture, it’s challenging enough just to raise a biological child or an adopted child who hasn’t been abused. Adopting a child who has been abused requires parents to have extra stores of emotional intelligence and availability — and a large and strong support network, as well as significant amounts of resilience and flexibility.

Adoption of an abused baby or child is often a tough ride, maybe the toughest of your life. It will test you, and it will test your relationship with your partner or spouse. And, if you can maintain your steadfast love, you will find that it’s probably the most rewarding, life-enhancing experience you could give your adoptive child, yourself, and your family. Just ask the vast majority of parents who have stepped in with big hearts and raised kids who were abused as their own, and you’ll see how profound, and life-deepening an experience it can be.

However, you need to be committed to this experience down to your bones, because you will be tried in ways that you hadn’t even thought possible. For example, a child who was abused will have to fight hard to work through that abuse and heal. This will not be pretty. In fact, kids who have been abused have all sorts of behaviors that they use to keep themselves “safe.” They may hoard their food. They may never be willing to hug. They may have huge control issues that drive you crazy. They may not even be willing to speak to you except in flat monosyllables. They may act out by destroying absolutely everything in their room or threatening to hurt you — and then they’ll expect you to abandon them. This is a common theme in fact.

Just when you think you’re making headway, when a child seems to be adjusting well, something else will happen and their behavior will go off track again. But really all they are doing is working off the old hurts so they can truly receive the love you have to give. They need to release those old hurts from their systems to be able to think well and to heal. And over time, they will heal all the way and have a wonderful life full of possibilities.

But they need parents who are up to the task. Parents who won’t blame themselves. Parents who can set firm boundaries in a loving way. Parents who won’t feel guilty when they experience the opposite of love for a child who has just destroyed something. Parents who will see beyond the destruction to the heart and potential of the young life they have taken into their family.

An abused adopted child’s sometimes awful behaviors are in fact smart ways they have figured out to cope at a very, very young age when their world was out of control and life was very threatening. It takes a big heart to see your child from this perspective, all while the other “bad” behaviors are going on.

You can pretty much assume that your adopted child will need to fight hard to work through the abuse to heal. They may also have attachment issues, which simply means that they were not able to develop a healthy connection with a primary parent or caregiver at critical windows in their early years. They may have allergies, sensory issues, or other concerns. These can be addressed, too, through a strong network of support specialists. You can visit the Handinhand.org parenting website, which has forums that address many issues involving adopted children who have been abused.

Adoption Attorneys in New Jersey

At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests. Contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ, or in Philadelphia, PA, at (856) 429-5005. We also provide a free initial consultation in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.

Adopting a Stepchild in New Jersey

Blended families are increasingly common in second marriages. In fact, some 65 percent of second marriages include children from a prior marriage.

While you cannot simply fill in the blank on a form to adopt your stepchild with the assistance of an experienced adoption attorney, adopting a stepchild is easier than you think, and the path to adoption of a stepchild can be streamlined in most cases. However, the other non-custodial biological parent must give up all legal rights and responsibilities to the child in question, or at least not object to the adoption. If that parent is unwilling to give legal consent, and objects to the adoption you can go forward with an adoption but it will be contested.

If the court finds the parent unfit to parent, possibly because of addiction, criminal history, neglect, mental illness, or abandonment issues, the court may terminate the parental rights and you can adopt the stepchild.

Or if the biological parent has not been in the picture for many years, the court may find that the other parent has willfully abandoned the child, thus paving the way for you to adopt. In any event an experienced adoption attorney can guide you through this.

Benefits to You and Your Stepchild When You Adopt

When you adopt, you are committing to the stepchild, saying, “I am your parent and will be so forever.” This can be a profound experience for the child in question. It sends a powerful message to the child that you are going to be there for him or her, no matter what.

When you adopt a stepchild, you assume all rights and responsibilities as a parent. The child can be given your last name if you and your spouse or partner choose to go that route. Your stepchild will be protected in case of the sudden death of your spouse or partner, and you will have the right to legally parent your stepchild. Your stepchild will have the same legal standing to inherit your estate as any of your other children.

Stepchild Adoption Questions? Contact an Adoption Attorney

At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984.

Please contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ, or in Philadelphia, PA, at (856) 429-5005. In addition to family law matters, we represent clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.

Welcome to Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC

At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring over 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky* has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests. Contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ or in Philadelphia, PA at (856) 429-5005. We provide a free initial consultation in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.