In Some Custody Cases, Possession Really is Nine-Tenths of the Law

Man's hands hold kid's handfulA custody battle involving three states began in December 2012, when Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, who was the mother of his infant daughter. He then drove to the Chiefs’ training facility and took his own life. Belcher’s mother, Cheryl Shepherd, was present when Belcher shot his girlfriend.

In the days following the tragedy, while still in Kansas, Shepherd obtained custody of the couple’s infant daughter.

Shortly thereafter, Shepherd signed temporary guardianship of the child over to Sophie Perkins, who is Kasandra Perkins’ cousin. Sophie took the baby to Texas for Kasandra’s funeral, kept her in Texas for a time and filed a Texas petition for guardianship. Shepherd then filed a similar petition for guardianship in her home state of New York.

The matter was considered by Jackson County, Kansas, since Kansas was the last state where custody of the child was addressed by a court. Both parties genuinely appeared to care for the child and her best interests, but the court ultimately awarded custody to Perkins.

In making the decision, the court noted Shepherd apparently consented to the child staying with Perkins for a long period of time after the funeral. (The court also considered the number of times police had been called to Shepherd’s home in the past.)

By giving her temporary guardianship and allowing Perkins to keep the child for some time after the funeral, Shepherd lost the ability to argue that Perkins was not an appropriate person to have guardianship of the child.

While this is not a case decided by Texas courts, it should be noted that the factors mentioned above for determining guardianship are also applicable to Texas cases. If you are involved in a case regarding custody of a minor child, whether you are the parent or not, contact an experienced family law attorney today. At Peterson Law Group, we stand up for your rights and protect the best interests of children in custody and support matters. Contact us today at 936-337-4681 or 979-703-7014.

About Chris Peterson

Chris Peterson is an attorney and the owner and founder of Peterson Law Group, a Texas law firm with offices in Bryan/College Station and Kingwood. He mainly practices in the areas of Estate Planning and Business Planning. Chris is also a Certified Estate Planner. Besides his law practice, Chris is a serial entrepreneur and community volunteer. He is known for his cutting edge law practice that utilizes technology to deliver efficient, excellent work.