Our Oklahoma readers may remember the tragic incident of NFL player Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide last month. As some may recall, the couple had a child together, a child who is now the center of a guardianship case between both families.
In situations like this one, where the child is suddenly orphaned, the issue of child custody can be very tricky. The now 4-month-old baby girl could inherit a reported $3 million in NFL and life insurance benefits. In a possible effort to avoid legal battles, Belcher’s mother recently signed an agreement forfeiting guardianship of the baby girl.
Belcher’s mother told NFL officials and police that she was unclear as to if her son was actually the father of the child. Two days after the tragic event took place, she signed over “temporary guardianship” of the child to the family of Belcher’s girlfriend. The temporary guardianship will remain in place until the necessary paperwork for joint custody between the two families has been worked out.
According to Belcher’s family, his mother signed the document because she believes the family of the baby’s mother will win sole custody otherwise. The court will determine who should receive custody of the baby, based on the best interests of the child. Until that decision is made, Belcher’s mother will still have visitation privileges when it comes to seeing the child.
While this situation is difficult for many reasons, especially because the child was so young when her parents passed away, it can be a lesson to others. It is never too early in a child’s life to appoint a guardian in the event that something as unexpected as this should happen to both parents.