On Tuesday, Zoey Belcher becomes nine months old, under the worst possible circumstances. Her parents are dead, and four different surviving family members are fighting in court for the right to raise her.
According to the Kansas City Star, the litigants include the mother of Zoey’s late father (Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher), the parents of Zoey’s late mother (Kasandra Perkins), a cousin of Zoey’s mother, and a sister of Zoey’s mother.
The four-party legal battle features allegations that relatives of Kasandra Perkins took Zoey to Texas for Kasandra’s funeral and failed to return Zoey to Cheryl Shepherd, the mother of Jovan Belcher.
Witness and exhibit lists suggest that Shepherd’s fitness will be attacked via “more than 60” police reports from 1997 through 2012 generated in the New York county where Shepherd resides.
Beyond the right to raise Zoey, the victor also will control on Zoey’s behalf hundreds of thousands of dollars available for her care — which of course carries with it the strong temptation to be an incidental beneficiary of whatever that money can buy for Zoey.
Here’s hoping that Zoey lands in the most loving, stable, and nurturing environment possible. Also, let’s hope that the losers respect the outcome and move on, allowing Zoey to avoid the turmoil of being caught in the middle of perpetually warring family members.