More than a month after Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher (pictured) shot and killed girlfriend Kassandra Perkins (pictured)before killing himself at Arrowhead Stadium, the families of the couple’s daughter are engaged in a fierce custody battle, the New York Post reports.
Currently, four-month-old Zoey Belcher is living with her maternal relatives in Texas, according to a lawyer for Cheryl Shepherd, Belcher’s mother. Two weeks prior to the murder-suicide, Shepherd had moved in with her son’s family. She also received custody of Zoey shortly after the shooting, and filed a legal petition to be named her granddaughter’s guardian and conservator of her estate in Jackson County Probate Court Dec. 14.
However, Zoey is no longer in her paternal grandmother’s care, according to Gretchen M. Gold, Shepherd’s lawyer.
“Cheryl agreed to temporarily allow the maternal relatives (to) take Zoey to Texas for her mother’s funeral,” Gold wrote in an e-mail to a probate commissioner. But Zoey has yet to be returned to her paternal family side. “The maternal relatives have now ceased communicating with Cheryl Shepherd and have refused to return her calls or return the child to her care.”
That is because Zoey’s maternal grandparents have filed a lawsuit seeking temporary custody, the girl’s relocation to Tarrant County, Texas and a guardian ad litem for her best interests. The hearing for that case will take place Jan. 22. Gold says that if the hearing does occur, Shepherd will be present and ready to fight. “We intend to fight the matter in Texas on Jan. 22 if that hearing takes place,” she wrote.
According to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, Zoey’s legal guardian or estate is set to receive over $1,000,000. This includes $108,000 per year over the next four years. The fifth year would garner $48,000; $52,000 would continue coming in each year until she becomes 18. Should Zoey attend college, she would continue receiving that amount until she turns 23.
Zoey could also stand to receive additional financial support from a trust by the Kansas City Chiefs and public contributions.