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Two Minnesota families battle for custody of child

The families of two Minnesota teenagers are fighting for custody over the couple's child after the girl's parents were killed in a murder-suicide. The child was orphaned after her 17-year-old father shot her 16-year-mother several times before killing himself. Both sets of grandparents are now battling for child custody in court, each accusing the other of being irresponsible parents.

The girl's maternal grandmother alleged that the paternal grandparents failed to separate the girl from her father despite his abuse of cannabis and alcohol. She also contends that the teenage father's parents should have enrolled both parents in joint counseling, criticizing their decision to take only the teenage father to receive help.

Likewise, the paternal grandparents have accused the maternal grandmother of being a neglectful parent to the orphaned child. They testified that the girl was often upset when being handed over to her grandmother and often returned to them smelling of smoke. They also claim the mother failed to show up to several of the exchanges, while their attorney has questioned the possible effects of her former abuse of methamphetamine on the child.

Several days after the fatal shooting, a court granted temporary custody to the girl's paternal grandparents, with the maternal grandmother being awarded visitation rights. A custody evaluator then conducted interviews of all three grandfathers, recommending that the paternal grandparents receive sole physical custody after they received the highest rank possible in all 16 parenting factors. The maternal grandmother received that rank on just 4 of the 16 factors. The evaluator suggested that both sides share joint legal custody.

A psychologist who reviewed the evaluations was surprised that the maternal grandparent was awarded with any custody rights, claiming that she exhibits signs of anti-social and narcissistic personality disorders. She added that it was also unusual that the evaluator suggested visitation rights for the grandmother, explaining that children under the age of 3 or 4 generally should not spend overnight and away from their primary caregivers.

Source: DL-Online, "Grandparents of child orhpaned in murder-suicide fight for custody," Mike Nowatzki, Aug. 30, 2012

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