Survivor and Sarah Palin reality show producer Bruce Beresford-Redman is stuck in Mexico following the strangulation death of his wife Monica, a restaurateur. Monica’s body was found in Cancun, Mexico, (in a sewer) following, what is alleged, some intense fighting with her husband in their hotel room. Following her recovery in the sewer, her husband was questioned and it is further alleged that when police apprehended him, he was tattooed with scratches on his face and arms. Monica, it was discovered, had sustained a nasty blow to the head as well as asphyxiation. Bruce asserts his innocence, and has been released from prison, even though he is not allowed to leave Mexico.
The issue now is what happens to their two minor children, ages 5 and 3. Both Bruce’s parents and Monica’s sister Carla are said to have petitioned the Los Angeles Superior Court for custody. And the judge granted temporary custody to the grandparents. This is interesting and it makes me wonder why custody was not granted to Monica. But it should be pointed out that grandparents have standing for custody and visitation in a situation like this, and their rights are superior to aunts and uncles, all things held constant. Certainly, here in New York, if a custody battle came down to equally fit grandparents and aunts, chances are the aunts would lose. Aunts do not have legal standing to petition for custody or visitation like grandparents do – unless they are the next of kin and nobody else can take custody. In other words, Carla can get custody if she can show that the grandparents are unfit and she is next of kin. But what are the chances that she can show the grandparents are unfit? Just because Bruce is accused or suspected of murdering his wife does not make his parents unfit for custody. Carla would have to get an attorney who is very strong, like a Gloria Allred (I hate her but she seems to get results) and try to throw the grandparents under the bus.
At the end of the day, if the kids have a close relationship with their grandparents, and if the grandparents’ lawyer can show that it is in the best interest of the children to continue that close relationship (especially if Carla’s relationship with the children is not as close) the grandparents will likely win permanent custody if Bruce is convicted and goes to prison for this crime.