Tragic Case Shows Custody Challenges When Both Parents Die

Frequent readers of our blog know that in most cases, when we are talking about child custody issues, we are looking at disputes involving a child’s biological parents. As most people can imagine, these types of disputes are very common here in North Carolina and across the nation. But as some of our Raleigh readers know, these aren’t the only types of custody disputes that can occur in our state and country.

Take for example a recent child custody case that occurred to our west in Lexington. The courts in this case needed to tackle a difficult third-party dispute between the children’s stepmother, who lives here in the U.S., and their aunt and uncle, who live in Ireland. Because both of the children’s parents had died, the courts needed to establish custody, dealing with both domestic and international custody laws in the process.

Based on North Carolina custody laws, the children’s stepmother did have the right to seek custody after their mother and father had passed away. But the courts had to consider one important fact: the children’s aunt and uncle had been appointed their legal guardian following the death of their mother. This begged the question:

Who had the legal precedence to gain custody of the children: their stepmother or their aunt and uncle?

This question was finally answered last month when the children arrived in Ireland after custody was awarded to their aunt and uncle. From reading their case, our Raleigh readers can see just how complicated some child custody battles can be, particularly when dealing with third-party custody and international custody laws. Their case also illustrates the importance of legal representation, especially when handling sensitive and exceptionally complex family law issues such as the one above.

Sources:¬†The Irish Times, “Candlelit vigil for Irish children at centre of US custody battle,” Kathryn Hayes, Aug. 17, 2015

The Irish Independent, “Children of Jason Corbett arrive in Ireland in care of slain father’s relatives,” David Raleigh, Aug. 22, 2015, “Stepparents’ Rights,” Accessed Sept. 1, 2015