Some of the most difficult child custody decisions revolve around children who have lost their parents to a sudden tragedy. In such cases, it is possible that the parents' will specifies who they preferred to have legal responsibility for raising the child or children been left behind. In the absence of such that, however, it can be left for a court to make the child custody decision in the best interest of the child.
This is the current situation for a four-month-old baby girl. Tragically, she was orphaned after the man who is believed to be her father shot and killed the girl's mother, and then committed suicide. The man was NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher.
The maternal relatives quickly filed for guardianship of the little girl. The day after, Belcher's mother made accusations that the little girl was kidnapped by the maternal relatives after her mother's funeral. Belcher's mother says she has been cut off from communication with the maternal family, even though she was originally granted temporary custody of the baby after the deaths.
Both sides obviously have a desire to raise the little girl. Another factor at play here is that once paternity is established, the girl stands to inherit millions from her late father's estate. This money would be paid out over time for her support. Whoever is awarded with guardianship will then have access to this money, and to make financial decisions on her behalf, at least until she is 18.
Who will a court decide should raise this baby who has been the victim of such heartbreak?
Source: News One, "Families Of Jovan Belcher, Kassandra Perkins Battle For Custody Of Baby Zoey," Hannington Dia, Jan. 7. 2013