Did a Florida man adopt his girlfriend to shelter fortune from litigation?

A wealthy Florida man — heir to an air conditioning fortune and founder of a West Palm Beach polo club — has resorted to an unusual adoption in an apparent attempt to shelter his fortune from civil litigation.

The new adoptive father — John Goodman — is currently being sued by the parents of a young man whom the Florida millionaire killed in a car accident. Specifically, the wrongful death suit alleges that Goodman was drunk at the time of the accident, speeding through a stop sign and striking the other car at a high rate of speed.

Before the accident, Goodman had established a trust fund for his two children. However, after a Florida judge ruled that the victim’s family could not touch the trust fund assets in their civil lawsuit, Goodman proceeded to legally adopt his 42-year-old girlfriend, making her his third so-called child who, as such, is entitled to a one-third share in the trust fund.

The defendant’s children cannot withdraw money from the trust until each of them reaches the age of 35. However, since Goodman’s adopted daughter/girlfriend is 42, she can immediately receive her one-third interest in the trust fund.

Many experts have theorized that she will presumably share these protected trust fund proceeds with Goodman. Indeed, the judge assigned to the civil case has called the situation resulting from the adoption a “legal twilight zone.”

It is worth noting that Goodman is also facing trial on criminal charges of vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter, and leaving the scene of a car accident. If convicted, he could face a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Both the civil and criminal trials are scheduled to be held next month at the Palm Beach County Courthouse.

Stay tuned for updates on this intriguing story from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about child custody, visitation or adoption rights, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


CBS News, “Fla. man adopts his 42-year-old girlfriend” Feb. 2, 2012