Saturday, February 04, 2012

Just when you thought the world can't get any crazier, a Millionaire adopts his girlfriend.

In this bizarre, or as the headline of the attached article says 'surreal' predicament,  a 48 year old man adopts his 42 year old girlfriend in order to protect a big portion of his assets from a lawsuit he is facing.  Can he do this legally?  Are there any implications?

When you read the details in Alyshah's Hasham's story in The Toronto Star, dated February 3, 2012, you'll see that the man is being sued for a wrongful death of a 23 year old man killed in an accident.  It is alleged the driver, John Goodman, had a blood alcohol level double the allowed limit.  He is also charged with a number of other offenses including leaving the scene of the accident.  He could face up to 30 years in prison if found guilty in a trial that begins next month in Florida.

Goodman is very rich, both earned and inherited.  So he legally makes his girlfriend (of two years), his daughter.  As a result, she may have immediate access (she is over 35) to a third of a trust fund set up for his children.  The rest being left to his two children who are under 35 who can't access their funds just yet.  The fund is worth about $200 million.

Was this really an adoption of love for a child or just an adoption of convenience?  We presume the latter since the girlfriend is not a needy orphan.  The hypothesis is that the upcoming trial may well empty him of his own personal assets and thus he needed someone who could access the trust fund.

Furthermore, the judge in the case ruled to keep the trust fund out of the mix so that the litigants would not pursue an unreasonable amount of damages in the case.  Now their lawyers are appealing that decision.   Meanwhile the adoption stands legally as Florida state law permits adult adoptions if the birth parents and spouse (if there is one) of the individual agrees.

The attached article goes on to say, "Most adult adoptions are done to cement the bond between foster parents and foster children, or for inheritance or end-of-life matters."  And here's the bizarre part, "There appears to be no legal reason for a sexual relationship to cease between the now father and adopted daughter since the state’s incest laws only apply in the case of blood relations."  Welcome to America.

Some however think the adoption is in violation of the Florida adoption statutes, arguing it is an offensive abuse and manipulation of the law for financial gain.  One lawyer maintains, “The intent of the law is not to create a legal relationship but a parent-child relationship.” They liken the situation to being like "marrying someone for citizenship...This not a legitimate adoption.”

Partly because the adoption was also done in a different county of Florida from where the trial is being held, some are seeing it as “ethically unfortunate.”  I'd like to suggest it is also morally unacceptable.

The accused founded the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington and has recently spent most of his time playing polo.   If justice were to be done in this case, in my humble opinion, the fund should stay out of the lawsuit, but remain in place for his own two children.  The girlfriend and he should get nothing from it.   But hey, this is America.  And Obama himself is likely trying to figure out how he can get his hands on Goodman's money.   Here's the article, you judge for yourself.

World News: Millionaire adopts girlfriend in ‘surreal’ legal move to allegedly protect assets -
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