Jason Corbett's wife sought legal advice about divorce and custody two years ago

Jason Corbett and children Jack (10) and Sarah (8)
Jason Corbett and children Jack (10) and Sarah (8)

Jason Corbett’s wife Molly Martens was seeking legal advice about divorce and custody of his two children two years before his death, it has been revealed.

The revelations, set out in US court papers, demonstrated Ms Martens’ preparations for a possible marriage split.

Yesterday, Jason’s children, Jack (10) and Sarah (8), were put into the custody of his sister Tracey Lynch by a US judge. A North Carolina court will today decide whether to throw out Ms Martens’ custody application, given that guardianship has been awarded to Mrs Lynch, the Irish Daily Mail reports.

Brian Shipwash, the Clerk of the Superior Court for Davidson County, North Carolina, said yesterday:

“The parents of Sarah and Jack, I am almost certain, would want their children raised in the land of their origin, where the culture, religion, customs and their extended family on both sides are prepared to nurture them in a manner that would be in the children’s best interest.”

“The named guardians [Tracey Lynch and her husband David] can provide that, so after much legal research, deliberation, though and prayer these children will return to Ireland.”

The US court heard that in June/ July 2013, Mr Martens (31) confided to a family friend, Lynn Shanahan, that she sought legal advice on custody of the children in the event of a divorce. The court also heard that “in the Fall of 2014, Molly Corbett spoke to attorney about her rights to the children”.

Mr Shipman’s findings of fact in the guardianship case also state that Jason Corbett was resisting attempts by his wife to adopt the children.

“The decedent [dead person] would not consent to a step-parent adoption even though Molly Corbett expressed a desire to adopt the child.”

 Meanwhile, the Limerick grandmother of Sarah and Jack has told how she was told by Sarah on the phone that “she was happy as Larry, and she loves me”.

Rita and John Corbett, whose son Jason was killed at his home in North Carolina, told the Irish Examiner of their ongoing trauma.

“It has been a nightmare. It should never have come to this. We just had to cope,” John (80), a retired truck driver said.

Rita added: “At least we will now be able to grieve and my son can rest in peace. That’s what we want. He wouldn’t rest in peace if his children were not brought home. I was speaking to Sarah yesterday. She was as happy as Larry and told me she loved me.”

“She didn’t say anything about coming back, I don’t think they had told her then. They know their dad is dead, because they have been told. She was only on the phone a very short time. Jack shouted from behind her and said ‘hi’ and that they were going for breakfast. Tracey my daughter had them. Sarah sounded alright.”

Mrs Lynch has been in the US for two weeks as Molly Martens Corbett, stepmother to Jack and Sarah, tried to get custody of the children.

This was despite the fact that she is a suspect in Mr Corbett's murder, alongside her father Thomas Martens.

The Corbett children's aunt, Catherine Fitzpatrick, said that the family were delighted that they are returning to Ireland.

It is hoped that the children will arrive home at the weekend before their father is buried in the middle of next week.

"We are relieved and over the moon," said Ms Fitzpatrick.

"We got to speak to them yesterday and that was really good.

"My mam needed that. They told her on the phone that they were coming home to mind her because she has just had her hip done."

Jason Corbett was found bludgeoned to death in the family home in North Carolina on August 2.

Their mother, Ms Fitzpatrick's sister, Mags Corbett, died in 2006 after suffering an asthma attack.

Police in the US have said they are not looking for anybody outside the family home in relation to Mr Corbett's death.

Ms Fitzpatrick said that the past two weeks had been very challenging for the family.

"It should have never come to this," she said. "It was black and white.

"She was a suspect in the murder, never adopted them and Jason always wanted them to come home.

"I just can't understand why it had to come to all of this."

Mr Corbett's brother John said that the opinion of a childcare worker, appointed by a judge to survey the children, had a significant impact on the custody case.

"She spent time with the children in the care of Molly Martens and also in the company of my sister Tracey and her husband David," he said.

"They were able to build a profile of how the kids were reacting and behaving around people," he added.

A report submitted by the Irish Child and Family Agency, Tusla, is also said to have played a significant role.

John Corbett said that the family would now have an opportunity to mourn the loss of his brother.

The family hope to have a funeral next week.

"There will be a lot of pain," he said.

"My brother was murdered and we have not yet had the luxury of having a funeral.

"We are all on autopilot trying to get his kids back to Ireland," he added.

"Our brother is home waiting for his children and all we want now is to have a funeral."