Child Custody Battle Brews in Aftermath of Mindy McCready's Suicide

March 19, 2013, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone
By Law Offices of James V. Sansone on March 19, 2013 8:00 AM |

child-custody2.jpgWhen country music singer Mindy McCready took her life on February 17, she left behind two sons whose future will now be determined by a judge.

Two weeks before McCready's death, and at her father's urging, Human Services placed her two sons - Zander, 6, and Zayne, 11 months - in foster care. McCready is known to have waged a battle with substance abuse and there were reports that the home was disheveled and that prescription bottles were readily available.

A custody battle has ensued between McCready's father and stepmother, and Zander's father, Bill McKnight. On April 5, a judge will decide the fate of the two brothers, including whether they will be raised separately.

There is no custody dispute over Zayne; his father reportedly committed suicide in January.

What the Judge Will Take into Consideration

No one knows what the judge's determination will be but these are the issues the courts routinely consider.

  • The age of the children.
  • The overall best interest of the child with an emphasis on assuring the "health, safety, and welfare" of the child and "frequent and continuing contact" with parents (California Family Code Section 3011, 3020, 3040, 3080).
  • Whether the parties have a substance abuse problem.
  • The children's wishes, if the children are sufficiently mature enough to make a meaningful preference

Custody Issues Between Two Parents

In a divorce case, the courts look first to grant custody to both parents jointly. When that decision would not be in the best interest of the child, the court will grant custody to one parent before looking to grant custody to other persons. In California, if the parents are unable to reach an agreement over custody, the family court or judge legal and physical custody issues for them.

The Difference Between Legal Custody and Physical Custody

  • Legal Custody: Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions about the child's welfare, including education, medical care, and religious upbringing.
  • Physical Custody: Physical custody involves where the children live and who will be responsible for daily child care

Do you have questions about your divorce, family law, children's issues, same-sex unions, juvenile dependency, adoptin, or spousal support? If so, call me or schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of James V. Sansone at 707-623-1875 or contact me by email. You can find additional information on family law, children's issues, spousal support, domestic violence as well as a list of resources you'll find helpful on our website.