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Texas grandparents' lawsuit dismissed in Belcher custody case

In most child custody disputes, the parents are the ones battling for custody rights, but grandparents' rights are increasingly in question in these cases.

One such instance is the custody dispute over the 4-month-old daughter of NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher. Belcher died in December 2012 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after killing his daughter's mother. After the tragedy, the paternal grandmother signed a temporary guardianship agreement granting custody to the child's maternal grandparents, who reside in Texas.

But later, in Missouri, the paternal grandmother filed for custody of the child and requested to be nominated as executor of her son's estate. Complicating matters, the maternal grandparents had also filed for custody of the child in Texas, though the child had been living in Missouri at the time of her parents' death.

In a conference call between the two judges handling the cases, it was determined that the Texas petition would be dismissed and that the custody dispute would be decided in Missouri. The 4-month-old currently resides in Austin with a relative.

The dismissal of the Texas case significantly simplifies the custody process in this instance. Residents of Houston should note, however, that they do have the right to file for custody in their state of residence, and that grandparents can petition the courts for visitation even when estranged from the parents of their grandchild. In this particular case, the Texas grandparents can even file once again through the Texas court system if they desire to do so.

Source: New York Daily News, "Maternal grandparents of Zoey Belcher, orphaned child of the late Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, dismiss custody lawsuit in Texas; case will continue in Missouri," Jan. 18, 2013

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