Custody deal agreed for Jackson's children: reports


June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 30, 2009 at 1:11 PM EDT

Michael Jackson's mother is to get permanent custody of the pop star's children after agreeing a deal with the singer's ex-wife, US media reports said Thursday.

The agreement -- which averts the possibility of an ugly court case -- will see Jackson's former wife Debbie Rowe receive visitation rights to the two children she bore Jackson, Prince Michael, 12, and Paris, 11.

The surrogate mother of Jackson's third child, Prince Michael II, known as "Blanket", 7, has never been identified.

Rowe, who earlier this month told a Los Angeles television station she wanted custody of her two children, "will retain her parental rights but she agrees not to make a claim for custody," NBC News reported.

Rowe will obtain visitation rights for Prince Michael and Paris but would receive no money beyond the spousal agreement already in place -- reportedly worth some 8.5 million dollars -- NBC reported.

Quoting unnamed sources, the television network said the two older children now know that Rowe, a former nurse at Jackson's dermatologist's office who was married to the singer between 1996 and 1999, is their mother.

"In fact, as a central part of the agreement, they'll begin to have a relationship with her, now that their father is dead," it added, noting that a child psychologist would supervise the process.

Although the deal has not been made public, ABC said all parties in the agreement would appear in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday and that the judge was expected to approve the deal.

Katherine Jackson, 79, was named temporary guardian of her grandchildren at a court hearing in Los Angeles four days after her son's death on June 25.

A will drawn up by Michael Jackson in 2002 named his mother as the guardian of the youngsters, with Motown legend Diana Ross named as an alternate.

The three children have been staying with Katherine Jackson at the musical clan's compound since their father's death last month.

Rowe signed away her parental rights to her two children in 2001, describing Jackson as a "wonderful man... a brilliant father."

However, a Los Angeles judge reversed the order in 2004 after Rowe cited concerns over publicity related to Jackson's prosecution for child molestation. Rowe later settled the case, reportedly securing visitation rights.

Despite Jackson naming his mother as the children's guardian in his will, legal experts said Rowe would have a strong custody claim on the grounds that she was the sole surviving biological parent.

Attorneys and friends of the Jacksons were adamant however that any challenge by Rowe would be fiercely contested, with family friend Jesse Jackson saying the former nurse was a stranger to the children.

"They do not know her, she does not know them," he said.

Lawyers for Rowe had reacted furiously on July 14 after reports that her custody challenge was an attempt to secure a multi-million-dollar payout.

The fate of Jackson's children was one of the myriad legal tangles thrown up by the singer's death last month. As well as custody issues, next Monday's hearing will also address the question of who controls Jackson's estate.

Meanwhile, the release of Jackson's autopsy results has been delayed until next week, the Los Angeles County Coroner's office confirmed Wednesday.

On Tuesday, federal agents and police raided the Las Vegas home and office of Jackson's personal doctor, Conrad Murray, who has become the central figure in the superstar's sudden death.

Search warrants filed in the investigation have indicated police are studying possible manslaughter charges against Murray, who is reported to have administered Jackson with a potent anesthetic before his death.

Jackson died suddenly at his rented mansion in Holmby Hills as he prepared to relaunch his career with a series of comeback concerts in London.

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