FL Man Adopts Adult Girlfriend, 42, to Shield Assets?

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on February 06, 2012 5:03 AM

Adopting an adult is something individuals do out of maternal or paternal love. But the Florida man who adopted his girlfriend probably did so for financial reasons.

Goodman, 48, adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend Heather Laruso Hutchins.

Plaintiff's attorneys say that Goodman made the unprecedented move in order to shield his assets from potential liability.

John Goodman, a Florida businessman, was being sued by the parents of Scott Patrick. Goodman allegedly ran through a stop sign, hitting a car driven by Patrick. Patrick died in the crash. Several hours after the incident Goodman's blood-alcohol level tested more than twice the legal limit, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Patrick's parents filed the wrongful death suit against Goodman. If they prevail he may be on the hook for thousands of dollars of damages.

Damages vary in wrongful death suits. Oftentimes the deceased individual's age, life expectancy, intelligence, and health will all be factors. The decedent's potential earning capacity will be considered.

That might be why Goodman decided to undertake the adoption.

Goodman has a trust set up for his two minor children, reports the Post. A judge earlier ruled that the money in the trust could not be used to determine Goodman's financial worth. By adopting his girlfriend as his daughter, Goodman is essentially giving her a 1/3 stake in the trust money.

This means that Goodman could tell her to remove some money from the trust, according to the Post.

Adopting an adult is allowed in most states. But typically men don't adopt their girlfriends. It's unclear if Goodman's actions will have ramifications on the civil case. He is also facing criminal charges stemming from the incident. If convicted, he could spend upwards of 30 years in prison, reports the Post.

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