The sudden death of pop icon Michael Jackson in June sparked a worldwide fury of public mourning and tributes that isn’t quite over yet. But as the hype begins to fade, a more important issue is coming into focus: what’s going to happen to his children?
Yesterday, the custody hearing for the King of Pop’s three children — 12-year-old Prince Michael, 11-year-old Paris and seven-year-old Prince Michael II (nicknamed “Blanket”) — was bumped yet another week, to July 20. Jackson’s 79-year-old mother, Katherine Jackson, is their temporary guardian.
Originally scheduled for July 6, the hearing was moved to July 13 based on a request by the attorneys for Debbie Rowe, the biological mother of the two older children. Both her lawyers and Katherine Jackson requested the second delay.
“The hearing was moved by the court after agreement of the parties,” Rowe’s child-custody attorneys, Marta Almli and Eric George, told Us magazine. George had told the magazine last week that “Debbie has not reached a final decision concerning the pending custody proceedings.”
Not long after Jackson’s June 25 passing, the press revealed that he was not the biological father of his children. Rowe, 50, gave birth to the elder two through artificial insemination; Prince Michael II’s mother is an unknown surrogate.
Jackson, who was 50, named his mother as the guardian for his children in his will; singer Diana Ross was to get custody if Katherine Jackson were unable to care for them.
There was no mention of Rowe in the will. Jackson reportedly paid Rowe a multimillion-dollar settlement to give up her parental rights in 2001, but she challenged the order three years later out of concern for the publicity generated from Jackson’s child-molestation trial. Jackson kept custody of the children after a settlement with Rowe.
Recently, The National Enquirer reported that Jackson had begged his friends to keep his allegedly abusive father, Joseph Jackson, out of his children’s life. “I know the last thing he wanted was for Joe to play a part in the raising of his children if he died,” an unnamed source told the tabloid. “He told me, ‘I don’t want him doing to them what he did to me.'” Jackson’s parents do not live together.
Michael Jackson shot to stardom in childhood among his brothers as the lead singer of the Jackson 5. His 1982 record Thriller made him a global superstar and is still one of the top-selling albums of all time. However, his personal eccentricities and allegations of pedophilia took the focus away from his musical accomplishments in the last 20 years of his life.
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