According to a recent Yahoo! article, an appeals court in New York ruled in favor of a Chinese girl who was adopted by a wealthy couple and then subsequently given up for adoption a second time. The family court judge ruled that the girl was owed a portion of her first family’s $250 million estate despite being given up for adoption by the couple back in 2003.
In 1996 a couple from Westchester County, NY adopted a baby from China, naming her Emily. The couple already had four biological children and, before Emily’s adoption was finalized, had a fifth biological child. Around the same time the husband was diagnosed with cancer.
When the adoption was finalized the family signed a contract stating the girl would legally be treated as if she were their biological offspring and that they would never abandon or have the girl readopted. The agreement also clearly stated that Emily would have a right to inherit the estate of her parents who had already established a trust in her name.
Tragically, the husband died only a year later. Years later, when Emily was taken to a school for children with special-needs, the surviving mother had her attorneys float the idea of having the girl adopted. The school’s assistant director and her husband expressed interest and agreed to adopt the girl.
The new parents had no knowledge of the family’s wealth or of the trust fund set up to care for the girl. Several years later the parents saw a filing that listed the family’s net worth at more than a quarter of a billion dollars and then filed suit claiming that Emily was entitled to a share of the estate. The mother responded saying that Emily had no rights to the estate since she had been readopted.
The family court judge disagreed and said the terms of the trust and the adoption agreement clearly indicated a desire to provide for the care of Emily. The family then appealed the ruling, but the appellate court again ruled in Emily’s favor. The court found that when the husband died his will was clear that Emily be provided for. Nothing in the documents showed any anticipation that the mother would unilaterally decide to readopt one of their children.
If you find yourself facing a complicated family matter then you need the help of experienced child custody lawyers in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the often confusing process.
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