A high-profile and emotional murder-suicide has now given way to an equally as emotional child custody battle. This dispute spans across two states, which complicates matters greatly, as some Minnesota parents can attest to.
The female child locked in the middle of the argument belonged to NFL player Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend. Belcher, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs, murdered his girlfriend before driving to his team's facility and killing himself.
Following the couple's death, police handed the child off to Belcher's mother. She was living with the couple at the time of the deadly incident. The woman eventually allowed the little girl to go with her maternal grandparents, who are living in Texas. The grandparents kept the child and would not let her return to Belcher's mother. This triggered a race to establish child custody.
The infant's maternal grand parents filed for custody in Texas while Belcher's mother asked a family court in Missouri to name her the girl's primary guardian. Belcher's mom lives in Long Island.
At a recent hearing, a probate commissioner in Missouri assigned a lawyer to the baby. This lawyer is tasked with the obligation to act in the infant's best interests while resolving the child custody dispute. The commissioner will also meet with a fellow commissioner in Texas. The two will help decide which state will handle the case.
While this case might be receiving a lot of press due to Belcher's status as a professional athlete, similar cases often play out around the country. When two sides are vying for custody of a child, a family law judge will ultimately weigh the evidence and make a decision based on the child's best interests.
Source: New York Daily News, "Jovan Belcher's orphaned daughter given legal aid amid family feud over custody rights," Barry Paddock, Jan. 11, 2013