The Lewiston Sun Journal reported last week on perhaps the strangest case of adoption since Woody Allen's ill-fated romance with his adopted daughter. However, the reasoning behind this episode is more practical, and deals with an issue that all too many people are struggling with these days: how do you establish financial security for your non-traditional partner? Click here to read the full article.
Adult adoption raises complex issues
Monday, January 15, 2007
PORTLAND (AP) - A legal case in which the daughter of an IBM executive who built the company into a computer giant adopted her same-sex partner to ensure her financial security is playing out in a complex legal dispute that is taking place in Maine courtrooms.
Olive F. Watson legally adopted her longtime partner, Patricia A. Spado, in 1991 in probate court in Rockland. Watson is the daughter of the late Thomas J. Watson Jr., who was the CEO of IBM from 1956 to 1971.
At stake is a multimillion-dollar trust fund, the Maine Sunday Telegram reported. At the same time, the case raises questions about whether same-sex couples can use Maine's adoption laws to establish legal rights, including inheritance, denied them because they can't marry.
The relationship between Spado and Watson ended in 1992, and their adoption resurfaced in Maine in 2005 when a lawyer for the Watson family trust filed a motion to annul the adoption. A judge granted the motion on a technicality.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court last week overturned the ruling and sent the case back to Probate Judge Carol Emery with instructions to judge the case on its merits.
The dispute is scheduled for a pretrial conference in Knox County Probate Court on Feb. 7. Another dispute is pending in a court in Connecticut, where Thomas Watson died in 1993.
Adult adoption is legal but rare in Maine. It sometimes occurs when an adult child wants to take the name and formalize a bond with a stepparent who raised him, or to create a path for inheritance between unrelated people.
That was apparently the case when Olive Watson legally adopted Spado 16 years ago. At the time, they were in their 40s and had been together for 14 years.