When Florida millionaire John Goodman adopted 42-year-old girlfriend Heather Laruso Hutchins, he may have successfully protected his assets. But did he set himself up to be criminally charged with incest? Incest is, after all, defined as sexual relations between close relatives—even adopted ones, Terry L. Turnipseed explains on Slate. But Goodman is far from the first person in the US to adopt his significant other; Turnipseed calls the practice a "growing trend." This type of adoption can be undertaken for a variety of reasons, not all of them nefarious, and courts are struggling with decisions over whether such adoptions should be upheld.
But most of these types of adoptions have been granted when sought in the US, which leads to the question of incest. In at least 25 states and territories, incest laws include adopted parents and children in their definition, and some of these lovers-adopting-lovers have in fact been criminally prosecuted. Florida is not one of those states, Turnipseed notes—but should Goodman's actions be considered incest, assuming he is still sleeping with his new daughter? The reproductive risks associated with typical incest cases are of course absent here, but the topic is an undeniably "murky" one. Click for Turnipseed's complete take. (Read more John Goodman stories.)