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Child custody dispute turns tragic

Child custody disputes may go beyond parents and children, involving other relatives who are concerned about visitation and fostering safe environments. Texas family law courts can also take grandparents' rights into consideration, especially when parents are unavailable to act as caregivers or when a parent negatively influences a child's well-being. However, grandparents are expected to comply with the law if they hope to be a part of a child's life.

Readers in the Houston area may have seen news reports about a recent tragedy in Delaware. A 68-year-old grandfather fatally shot the 39-year-old mother of his grandchildren and the mother's friend. The grandfather, who also fatally shot himself, was from Texas. The shooting took place in the lobby of a Delaware courthouse where the shooter's son was scheduled to appear for a child support hearing.

According to Delaware's attorney general, the fatal incident stemmed from a prior custody dispute. The gunman's son had already pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and kidnapping after transporting his children to Central America without legal permission. The father may have also violated his current probation guidelines and was being held by federal authorities at the time of the tragedy.

A bystander in the courthouse claims to have ridden the elevator with the shooter on the morning of the attack, noting that the man was quiet and showed no signs of agitation. By choosing a violent course of action, the grandfather may have deprived his grandchildren of both parents. Relatives who want to protect children and provide the best custody arrangements possible should follow the proper legal channels and always, always keep the best interests of the children in mind.

Source: KBTX.com, "UPDATE: Delaware Courthouse Gunman Killed Himself," Feb. 12, 2013

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