Custody battle delayed for child whose father was murdered

An emotional case involving the custody of a 5-year-old girl who was a witness to the murder of her father and stepmother has been delayed after one of the hearing witnesses had to undergo surgery, according to The Lufkin News. Both the maternal and paternal grandparents of the girl are fighting for custody in a Texas court while the murder investigation continues.

Father was visiting daughter

The father and stepmother were killed outside of a church while visiting the girl as part of a court order that would have likely led to the father gaining full custody of the girl. The father had been fighting with the maternal grandparents of the girl for custody. The mother of the girl had previously given custody to her parents because of her confessed methamphetamine addiction.

While the investigation into the murder is ongoing, child services chose to remove the girl from the maternal grandparents’ home due to what it described as “urgent facts.” Because the case involves an ongoing criminal investigation, details about what those urgent facts were was limited.

Daughter was only witness

Part of what makes this custody battle so unique is that the girl was the only witness to the murder. Child services contend that because the murderer has not yet been found, the girl could be in danger if she is not placed in a secure home.

Furthermore, investigators found raw sewage, a loaded pistol, and a bag containing meth residue at the maternal grandparents’ home. The grandparents claimed the bag was being kept as leverage against the mother of the girl in case she should try to leave the home with the child.

The child is currently being kept in child protective custody. Her location has not been disclosed for her own safety and the custody hearing will begin again in April.

Case highlights how fraught custody cases can be

While the above case is certainly extreme and it remains to be seen how it will be resolved, it nonetheless highlights just how emotionally fraught child custody cases can be for many Texas families. When a couple divorces, issues of child custody often lead to emotionally charged decisions; some of those decisions can actually end up hurting a parent’s child custody case. Therefore, any parent or grandparent seeking custody of a child needs to seek out the services of a qualified family law lawyer. Such a lawyer can use his experience and expertise to build a solid custody case that will take into full account the parental rights of the client.