News sources report that a wealthy Florida businessman has adopted his 42-year girlfriend as his daughter. John Goodman, the founder of the tony International Polo club in Wellington, Florida, was also involved in a fatal hit and run car accident in 2010.
MSNBC reports that John Goodman, while intoxicated, ran a stop light in February of 2010 that caused him to crash and kill the 23-year-old Patrick Wilson. According to the police report, Goodman’s blood alcohol level at the time of the accident was twice Florida’s legal limit. According to the report, Goodman faces 30 years in prison for leaving the scene of an accident, and charges of vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter against him. Wilson’s parents also filed a civil suit against Goodman for the death of their son.
MSNBC also reports that according to Wilson’s attorney, in a drastic effort to protect his assets, Goodman legally adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend, Heather Hutchins, in October of last year. A trust fund established by Goodman for his two minor children cannot be used as court-rewarded damages to Wilsons because a Palm Beach County Circuit judge ruled the trust fund cannot be considered Goodman’s asset. Since Goodman’s girlfriend is now also considered his daughter, she is entitled to one-third of the funds in the trust, and with Hutchins being over 35 she can start withdrawing funds from the trust immediately.
As it appears Goodman is trying to somewhat secure his children’s financial future by adopting the girlfriend. According to MSNBC, in an interview with a local TV, a state adoption expert said that Goodman adopting his girlfriend as his daughter may not be strictly legal. A probate court is due to rule on the legitimacy of Hutchins becoming an heir to Goodman’s children’s trust fund.
According to MSNBC, Glenn Kelley, a Palm Beach County Circuit Judge wrote that “The Court cannot ignore reality or the practical impact of what Mr. Goodman has now done.” Judge Kelley also added that “The Defendant has effectively diverted a significant portion of the assets of the children’s trust to a person with whom he is intimately involved at a time when his personal assets are largely at risk in this case.”
In an interview with the local TV station, Charlotte Danciu, an adoption attorney said that “Adoption means the act of creating the legal relationship between parent and child where it did not exist. Unless you intend to create the parent-child relationship, you are violating the letter of the law.”
It’s just amazing how a split second accident can make your life upside down, also affecting the lives of other people around you. Drink responsibly, and drive sober.
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