Child custody disputes, here in Georgia and across the country, can lead
to some shocking results. Recently, a custody dispute made the headlines
when a mother found out a woman who was guilty of murdering her own children
was now living with hers.
In 1991, a woman who was charged with killing her four and 8-year old daughters,
using a 38 caliber handgun, was deemed temporarily insane and sent to
a mental hospital. Her husband divorced her and remarried a second woman
in 1995, with which he had two sons. In 2004, they divorced and agreed to share
child custody of the two boys.
All was well and good, with the second wife living in Oregon and the ex-husband
living near Seattle. But then things got a bit more complicated. The first
wife was unconditionally discharged from the mental hospital in 2005,
when authorities determined she was no longer a risk. The man then decided
to remarry his first wife.
At first, the mother of the now teenage boys did not know her ex-husband
had remarried the woman who had shot and killed her own children. So when
she did eventually find out, she was admittedly relieved, when her sons
told her that the first wife had moved out and was seeking another divorce.
However, in 2010, the woman discerned the first wife had moved back in,
a fact she confirmed it through a private investigator. Frightened that
her teenage boys were living with a child murderer, she sought a modification
of her custody agreement with the father.
In denying the modification, the court stated that the boys had been spending
time with their step-moth since 2008 without incident, even if it was
unknown to the mother. The court noted there have been no problems and
refused to alter the custody plan. The mother plans to appeal, with her
attorney observing what he termed the absurdity of saying "Well,
she hasn't killed anybody recently."
A King County Superior Court judge in Seattle is scheduled to hear the appeal.
While laws concerning custody and visitation vary from state to state,
the general overall approach is to resolve disputes in the best interests
of the children. People do not always agree as to what constitutes those
best interests. When a parent believes that their children may be at risk,
an attorney seasoned in handling child custody disputes may help the concerned
party pursue what is best for the children.