Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wealthy Man Adopts His Adult Girlfriend

Well, isn't this a special use of adoption?!  A polo tycoon has adopted his girlfriend so that he can hide his assets from the family of the man he killed in a drunk driving incident:
When a man wants to spend the rest of his life with a woman, he often extends an offer to her to become part of his family.

But International Polo Club Palm Beach founder John Goodman, 48, did so in a very unorthodox way.

The multimillionaire trust-fund heir adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend Heather Laruso Hutchins last fall, after being accused of drunk driving in a 2010 accident that left 23-year-old Scott Wilson dead.

Goodman is being sued by Wilson’s parents for wrongful death. According to police reports, Goodman ran a stop sign on February 10, 2010 in Wellington, Florida and smashed into Wilson, sending his car into a canal.
 
Scott Wilson, a 23-year-old graduate of the University of Central Florida, was killed in 2010

Circuit Judge Glenn Kelly had previously ruled that the trust funds set up for his two biological children were off-limits in the lawsuit, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Court papers show that Goodman adopted Ms Hutchins in October of last year, CBS12.com reported.

‘My reaction was that it was both awful and brilliant,’ Belray Beach adoption attorney Charlotte Danciu told CBS12.com.

The adoption papers state that Hutchins, now a legal child of Goodman, is immediately entitled to at least a third of his trust.
* * *
Judge Kelley wrote that the events are taking the court ‘into a legal twilight zone.’

Ms Danciu agreed. ‘Unless you intend to create the parent-child relationship, you are violating the letter of the law,’ she told CBS12.com.
Courts usually disallow the use of adult adoption in this way.  Like lawyer Danciu said, without intending to create a parent-child relationship, it really isn't an adoption.  That's the grounds for denying adult adoption in cases involving gay couples looking to legalize their relationship in a world that denies them marriage.

So is it incest for Goodman to have sex with his newly-adopted daughter?  According to this gossip site, the Florida incest statute does not mention sex with adopted relatives, only relatives of "lineal consanguity," which means blood relationship.

But Florida's statute is really in the minority;  a majority of states say it's incest when there's sex between ancestors or descendants by blood or adoption. That's what the Texas Penal Code says.  So I guess my advice to the Goodman pater and fille is to research the laws of all states they visit, and refrain from sex in most of them.  Sigh. That's not legal advice I ever thought I'd offer to anyone.

5 comments:

Lorraine Dusky said...

Thanks for this amazing story. What a crazy world.

Muzik said...

This happened in my county. I remember this story. I am appalled to be hearing of this in this way. I never heard of adult adoption. Thanks for sharing this.

Anne said...

When I was still a caseworker, I had a client whose children had been removed and placed in the state's custody. The director of a local homeless shelter and his wife legally adopted the mother. We tried in vain to talk the mother out of it. She was all for it -- until they used their status as "family" to have the children placed in their custody.

LisaLew said...

Absolute craziness! He needs to step up to the plate and be accountable for his actions. Shame!

Lyndsey Swinhart said...

One should only be classified as adopted if they are going to be cared for as an adopted child. There are many who would love to be adopted, but never even get the chance. This man is abusing the system. I personally think it would be really awkward to explain to someone that the person who adopted you is also your husband. If my boyfriend wanted to adopt me instead of marrying me I would be really upset.