Unfortunately this is something we all knew was coming as soon as news broke that Kansas City Chiefs LB Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and then himself, leaving little Zoey Belcher an orphan: A heated custody battle.
Custody of the four-month-old was originally given to Jovan’s mother Cheryl Shepherd, who was in the house when the murder took place. She is seeking to become Zoey’s guardian and conservator of her estate, but the child is no longer with Shepherd and is instead being looked after by Kasandra Perkins’ parents in Texas.
The problem is that wasn’t the plan agreed to by both sides. Sheherd’s lawyer Gretchen Gold told the Associated Press Zoey’s time with her other grand parents was supposed to be short-term.
“Cheryl agreed to temporarily allow the maternal relatives (to) take Zoey to Texas for her mother’s funeral. The maternal relatives have now ceased communicating with Cheryl Shepherd and have refused to return her calls or return the child to her care.”
Now there are two hearing scheduled, one in Independence later this week and another in Texas on Jan. 22.
As much as we’d love to think any of this has to do with the well being of the child, it would be naive to think the money due to Zoey’s estate isn’t the real reason for such a nasty fight. That estate will receive over $100,000 annually over the next four years, then roughly $50,000 every year until she turns 18 with that age jumping to 23 if she attends college.
There is also the trust set up by the Kansas City Chiefs that could also be worth millions.
In a perfect world, Zoey would have been adopted by someone like Jamaal Charles (his wife is Perkins’ cousin) who could guarantee money played no role in the decision. Hopefully when the decision is made between the grandparents, there can be aggressive steps taken to make sure the majority of the money is waiting for Zoey when she is an adult.
Something tells me if it was ruled the guardian(s) could only use a small fraction of that money to care for Zoey that we wouldn’t be staring at court dates in two different states in the span of two weeks.