Woman Seeks Mother-Ex-Lover’s Family Money

Court will decide if a woman adopted by her lover can collect money

Getty Images

A woman who had been adopted by her wealthy lesbian lover, only to break up with her a year later, is heading to court in hopes of getting her share of her mother/ex-lover's family fortune.

Olive Watson – the daughter of the late Thomas Watson Jr., who built International Business Machines Inc. into a computer giant –adopted Patricia Spado, her longtime lesbian partner in 1991 in Maine.

Watson, who was 43 at the time, adopted the then-44-year-old Spado to protect her financially. But then, a year later, the two split and Watson paid Spado a $500,000 settlement, the New York Times reported in 2007.

Watson's father died in 1993, unaware of the adoption. Things became complicated in 2004, when his wife died, making Watson grandchildren 35 and older eligible for cash payouts from accounts worth millions, according to Reuters and Associated Press reports.

Technically, Spado was her ex-lover’s daughter and therefore a Watson grandchild. That’s when her lawyer notified the trust that she was entitled to a share of the fortune, dropping a bomb on the unsuspecting Watson family.

Watson’s other heirs did not open their arms to their new-found family member. Instead, they went to court to determine if the adoption was actually legal and to try and annul it. In Maine, law allows one adult to adopt another, the Times reported.

After a long journey through court, the probate judge who granted the adoption in 1991 annulled it in April 2008 over a residency issue. Spado and Watson were New York residents so, the court decided, they had not fulfilled the statutory requirements of living in Maine at the time of the adoption.

But that all changed Thursday, when the Maine Supreme Judicial Court overturned that ruling and decided that the adoption should not have been annulled.

"It means she is Olive Watson's child. She's a Watson family member," said Clifford Ruprecht, one of the attorneys who represented Spado in the Maine case.

The case now moves to a Connecticut superior court to determine if Spado is entitled to any of the Watson riches, said Michael Koskoff, her lead attorney in the Connecticut case.

"Now the fireworks will start," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us