Agreement reached on custody of Jackson’s children
LOS ANGELES — Katherine Jackson and the mother of Michael Jackson’s two oldest children have reached a custody agreement, the attorneys announced Thursday.
The terms of the agreement call for Jackson’s mother to remain guardian of the pop icon’s three children, who range in ages from 7 to 12. The singer specified that his mother should care for his children in his 2002 will.
Deborah Rowe, who gave birth to the singer’s two oldest children, will have some visitation rights, according to a news release issued Thursday morning.
“The timing, frequency and manner of visits shall be implemented according to the best interests of the children, as determined by a child psychologist selected jointly, and paid jointly, by Katherine Jackson and Deborah Rowe,” the release stated.
No money is changing hands as a result of the agreement, the statement said.
“Mrs. Jackson and the family are pleased this matter is resolved and was handled in a caring, thoughtful and courteous manner by the parties and their representatives,” L. Londell McMillan and Diane Goodman, attorneys for Mrs. Jackson, wrote in a statement.
“We were all united in our goals to do what is best for Michael’s wonderful children, and both Mrs. Jackson and Debbie Rowe were on the exact same page.”
Eric M. George, an attorney for Rowe, called the agreement a “dignified outcome.”
Rowe never petitioned for custody of Jackson’s children. The issue was slated to be discussed by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge during a hearing Monday.
Michael Jackson, who died June 25 at 50, was the sole parent to his three children. He was married to Rowe, but both had described the relationship as borne out of a friendship and said that Rowe had given birth to his two oldest children as a “gift” to Jackson. They divorced after Paris-Michael was born and Rowe was largely absent in her children’s lives. His third child, 7-year-old Prince Michael II, known as Blanket, was born to a surrogate and the mother’s identity has never been revealed.
In Jackson’s will, he expressed his desire to have his mother take care of his children. But after he died, Rowe expressed interest in raising not only her two children, but Blanket as well. In a phone interview with television station KNBC, she also said she would seek a restraining order against Joe Jackson, Michael’s father; Michael Jackson had a complicated relationship with him and often spoke of beatings at the hands of his father.
After Mrs. Jackson, 79, was named by a court as the children’s temporary guardian, Rowe won a delay in a guardianship hearing while she decided whether to seek custody. Other hearings were delayed at the request of both parties, and McMillan had described the negotiations between both sides as very cordial.
While McMillan would not discuss details of any agreement, he did say no money exchanged hands. Rowe has taken legal action and demanded retractions as other reports have claimed that she was seeking money from the Jacksons in exchange for dropping any attempt at custody of the children.
Michael Jackson gave Rowe a financial settlement after they divorced in 2000 and she relinquished her parental rights. But they were reinstated by a judge in 2005 after Rowe went to court over the children. The custody dispute was settled in 2006. Terms were not disclosed. Jackson retained primary custody of the children.
All three children have been living with Katherine Jackson since their father’s death, where they have been surrounded by their aunts, uncles and cousins.
AP Music Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this story.