Texas residents may have heard about the recent death of professional football player Jovan Belcher, who killed himself after first killing his girlfriend. Tragically, their deaths left the couple's 4-month-old daughter an orphan. Now, a complicated court battle is brewing in which various relatives of both parents are vying for custody of the child.
The little girl's maternal grandfather lives in Austin, Texas. Currently, the child is being cared for by an adult cousin. One court proceeding was initiated in Texas by a lawyer representing the child's maternal grandmother, who would prefer to be granted permanent custody. Elsewhere, the maternal grandmother has also asked for a hearing over the child's custody in probate court.
Because the proceedings are in different states, the issue of which court has jurisdiction over the baby girl must be addressed. The little girl's guardian or estate stands to inherit approximately $1 million, including four years of $108,000 in annual payments still due to the deceased father under an NFL union contract. In the fifth year, a $48,000 payment will be made, and then the child will receive an additional $25,000 a year until age 23, assuming she attends college, or until age 18 if she does not.
The owners of the Kansas City Chiefs, the football team that Belcher played for, have also established a trust fund to benefit the girl. Members of the public, fellow football players, and team coaches, as well as others have been making contributions to it. The father had a life insurance policy that will apparently pay out benefits totaling $1.4 million, and he also left a total of approximately $100,000 in a retirement account.
This is clearly an unusual situation, but it's not uncommon for the relatives of children who have lost their parents to fight over custody. In cases like these, extended family members can benefit from the guidance of a family law attorney who understands the complexities of non-traditional child custody battles.
Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Infant daughter of Jovan Belcher is center of custody dispute," Gordon Dickson, Jan. 11, 2013
- Our firm is well-equipped to handle the diverse child custody needs of north Texas residents. To learn more about our practice, visit our Denton County child custody page.