Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Michael Jackson's mother will retain custody of his children

July 30, 2009 |  5:26 am

The mother of Michael Jackson will retain custody of his children, and the biological mother of the two elder children will visit and maintain her legal parental rights under an agreement reached by both sides,  The Times has learned.

Katherine Jackson, 79, the late pop icon’s mother, and Debbie Rowe, 50, who bore Jackson’s two older children, also agreed to mutually hire a child psychologist to advise them on how, when and where Rowe’s visits should take place, a knowledgeable source said.

The agreement will go before a Los Angeles judge Monday, and both sides expect the judge to approve it, the source said. Rowe did not ask for custody. “Debbie is really happy” about the arrangement, said the source, refusing to be identified because the agreement has yet to be announced.

The source said Rowe did not receive any money under the arrangement and will pay half of the fees for the child psychologist.

Neither side made any demands that were rejected, the source said, and the arrangement was agreed to without contentious negotiation.

In his will, Jackson named his mother as guardian. Singer Diana Ross was listed as an alternative choice should his mother be unable to care for the children. Rowe has not seen the children in several years and at one time relinquished her parental rights.

During a period when she had visitation, she complained that she was forced to meet the children in hotel rooms in the presence of Jackson’s associates and could not make up for visits she missed.

Rowe met Jackson while working in the office of Dr. Arnold Klein, his Beverly Hills dermatologist. Jackson wanted her to have children for him. "If someone needs something, I'm there, you know," Rowe later said in a televised interview.

Jackson and Rowe married in 1996 when she was six months pregnant after being artificially inseminated. She is the mother of Prince Michael Jr., 12, and Paris Michael Katherine, 11. Jackson’s youngest child, Prince Michael II, 7, called "Blanket," was borne by an unidentified surrogate.

Rowe lives on a horse farm in Palmdale that she purchased after receiving an $8.5-million divorce settlement from Jackson.  The terms of the divorce, finalized in 2000, gave Jackson sole custody of the children and Rowe visitation. She soon stopped visiting the children because she said  “it was not working out,” according to court records.

After giving up her parental rights in 2001, Rowe went to court in 2003 to challenge that waiver. At the time, Jackson was facing child molestation charges. An appeals court ruled in her favor.

-- Maura Dolan in San Francisco


Graphic: Jackson family tree