Kansas City, MO — The custody battle over Zoey Belcher, the infant daughter of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, is finally over.
Custody of the 9-month-old has been awarded to the family of Kasandra Perkins, Zoey’s mother, who was shot to death by Belcher in their home on December 1, 2012. After killing Perkins, Belcher drove to to Arrowhead Stadium and shot himself.
Zoey will be raised in Pflugerville, Texas, by Perkins’ 35-year-old cousin, Sophie, who had already been taking care of the baby since her parents’ deaths. Jackson County Probate Commissioner Daniel Wheeler felt that it was in Zoey’s best interest to have one primary caregiver, and determined that Sophie Perkins was the best person to raise the orphaned baby girl.
Jovan Belcher’s mother, 54-year-old Cheryl Shepherd, had also sought custody of Zoey. She argued for a parenting-by-committee approach that would split custody between the maternal and paternal families, but Wheeler did not like the arrangement.
“Perkins will provide a more structured and stable approach to caring for the minor,” Wheeler wrote.
The Perkins and Belcher families agreed to allow a third party to manage Zoey’s inheritance, which is now about $3.75 million. However, Wheeler felt that money was not a factor in the custody battle.
“The only possible selfish motive both parties could have is their desire to have the child with them, on a daily basis, so they can care, nourish and love the child,” he wrote.
Shortly after Belcher’s suicide, it was announced that the NFL would pay out $1 million to Zoey Belcher over at least the next 18 years. Her guardian or estate will receive $9,000 a month over the next four years, and in her fifth year, that amount will change to $48,000 a year. She’ll receive $52,000 per year until she turns 18 or 23, which will depend on her college situation.
In addition, Zoey will receive $600,000 in life insurance, and $200,000 for each season Belcher played in the NFL. The amount increased to $3.75 million total after accounting for Belcher’s cars and more cash.