Court Rules Man Can’t Adopt His Girlfriend To Prevent His Children From Receiving Money From Trust

April 2nd, 2013

This story is really messed up.

But even before Goodman’s March 2012 criminal trial began, controversy had already erupted over a Miami-Dade circuit judge’s September 2011 decision to finalize Goodman’s adoption of his girlfriend Heather Anne Hutchins. Goodman at the time was simultaneously fighting criminal charges in the Feb. 2010 death of Scott Wilson, a wrongful death suit from Wilson’s family, and a dispute in Delaware over the management of a trust fund established for Goodman’s two children with his ex-wife Carroll.

It was the last of these issues that Goodman’s legal team said was the impetus for Goodman to make the rare move to adopt his girlfriend, giving her immediate access to $5 million from the trust and promising future payouts totalling nearly $12 million. The move ended up drawing national attention both from people who suspected Goodman was trying raid his children’s trust and others who thought it strange that Goodman would adopt his lover as a daughter.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal in its 9-page ruling on the matter Wednesday said Goodman — now fighting a DUI manslaughter conviction and 16-year prison sentence — deliberately kept news of Hutchins’ adoption from his ex-wife and the Wilsons until January 2012, when it was too late for anyone to contest it. The appeals panel called the move a fraud, and Senior Judge Alan R. Schwartz individually blasted Goodman in a concurring opinion.

“Even if the motivation and the means for securing it were not so reprehensible, I believe…the adoption of a paramour is so contrary to the beneficent purposes of such an action that no such judgment can ever be sustained,” Schwartz wrote.

Scott Smith, the civil attorney for Wilson’s father William, said the language in this appellate decision was particularly harsh.