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2003 Stories

Lecturer and Students Help Earn California Supreme Court Victory
On Monday, August 4, the California Supreme Court ruled in Sharon S. v. the Superior Court of San Diego County. The decision affirms the validity of “second-parent adoptions,” providing key legal protections to children raised by same-sex couples. These adoptions permit a birth or adoptive parent to retain parental rights while allowing his or her partner to become the child’s second parent. Lecturer-in-Residence Joan Heifetz Hollinger, an expert on adoption law and policy, and her students submitted an amicus curiae brief arguing that California’s adoption laws authorize second-parent adoptions.

Because same-sex couples are not currently permitted to marry, a second-parent adoption is often the only way couples may establish a secure legal relationship with their children. The brief argued that the state Supreme Court should affirm the lower courts ability to evaluate second-parent adoptions on a case-by-case basis, using the same standards as in other independent adoptions. The brief concludes that second-parent adoptions benefit children by giving legal recognition to actual parent-child relationships and protecting children’s rights to material benefits, such as inheritance, pensions, Social Security, health insurance and child support.

In her opinion for a majority of the Court, Justice Kathryn Werdegar ’62 supported key points made in the brief. The decision enables thousands of children and their families to have their relationships legally recognized. For more information, please contact Erin Campbell at 510-643-8010 or



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