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Child custody case arises in the wake of family tragedy

When a child loses one or both parents in a sudden or violent manner, the emotional ramifications can be devastating. Children in such a scenario often are immediately removed from their familiar surroundings, and may not be able to emotionally capable of processing the loss of their parents. A current case making headlines in Colorado and across the nation highlights some of the legal difficulties that can arise when multiple parties fight for child custody in the aftermath of tragedy.

The case involves two little boys who lost their mother to a violent crime. Their father is currently awaiting trial for the shooting that ended her life. Meanwhile, two families have brought child custody actions in two different states.

One couple is the sister and brother-in-law of the father of the children. The maternal grandparents of the little boys have filed their own petition. While the aunt and uncle are scheduled to appear first in court, the issue of jurisdiction is expected to be the first determination made in the case. It is unclear where or with whom the children are currently living, or whether the father has relinquished his parental rights or is opposed to either of the custody claims.

Any judge in this position, whether in Colorado or other jurisdictions, has a difficult decision to make. He or she is tasked with coming to a determination that will serve the best interests of the two children. However, in a scenario in which two families love the children and want to provide for their upbringing, a decision will likely devastate one couple who are already dealing with a painful and difficult set of circumstances, as well as an upcoming trial. It is hoped that the boys will be able to find a stable and secure family structure as a result of the pending child custody litigation, and that all of the extended family members can find peace in the ultimate outcome.

Source: Chicago Heights, IL Patch, "Slain Woman's Mom Takes Child Custody Dispute to California," Adam Townsend, Oct. 15, 2012

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