What About the Jackson Children?

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Michael Jackson
Splash News / Bauer Griffin

(L-R) Paris Michael, 11, Prince Michael Jr., 12, and Prince Michael II, 7, known as Blanket

In the wake of shocking news of pop superstar Michael Jackson's death, many are left wondering about the fate of his three children. Early reports by RadarOnline suggest that Jackson's mother Katherine will assume custody of the children.
Prince Michael Jr., 12, Paris Katherine, 11, and 7-year-old Prince Michael Jackson II are currently in their grandmother's care. TMZ reports that the children have expressed a desire to remain with Katherine. "The kids are very upset, but the are fine," Jackson's manager, Frank DiLeo, told PEOPLE.
However, a swirl of other reports suggest that the question of custody will be more complicated.
According to TMZ, Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe has the legal right to obtain custody of Paris and Michael Jr., the two children she bore for the singer. It was previously believed that Rowe gave up custody of the kids during a legal battle in 2005, and the judge at the hearing initially ruled her rights terminated. But Judge Stephen Lachs later reversed his decision.
According to Rowe's former attorney, Iris Finsilver, she is their legal parent and can gain custody of them if she chooses.
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A Michael Jackson Retrospective

    Michael Jackson was rushed to the hospital suffering from cardiac arrest. According to reports, he has died at the age of 50. A Retrospective of His Life

    X17online

    Known as the King of Pop, Michael Jackson began his life as a child sensation who blossomed into one of the greatest pop stars of all time.

    Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

    He was the lead singer for the very popular Jackson 5 that included the his brothers -- Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon. He then morphed into a highly successful recording artist, making his first solo album in 1972.

    Ron Galella, WireImage

    Jackson appears in the 1982 music video for 'Thriller,' one of the best-selling albums of all time with at least 27 million copies sold worldwide.

    Everett Collection

    Over the course of his storied career, Jackson won 13 Grammy awards -- eight of them for 'Thriller' alone.

    Liason

    His stage presence captured the hearts of millions -- including his signature "moonwalk" dance which he unveiled in 1983 while performing 'Billie Jean.' At 50 years old, he was attempting to make a comeback with several dates scheduled in London.

    Dave Hogan, Getty Images

    Jackson's successes were also marred by personal strife and controversy. In later years, the singer was twice accused of molesting children. In the first, he settled out of court with the accuser, and in the second he was found not guilty.

    Roslan Rahman, AFP / Getty Images

    Jackson is seen being escorted into court in January of 2004 -- the second time he was charged with child molestation. The first, in 1993, resulted in a settlement reported to be worth about $23 million.

    Hector Mata, AFP / Getty Images

    Jackson is shown here in his 2003 mug shot where he was booked on child molestation charges. The singer was later acquitted.

    Robyn Beck. AFP / Getty Images

    The 'Dangerous' star caused a stir when he held his youngest child, Prince Michael II, over the balcony of his Berlin hotel in 2002. His son was later dubbed 'Blanket' due to this incident.

    Olaf Selchow, Getty Images

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Jackson and Rowe were married briefly, but divorced six months after the birth of their daughter. Jackson had custody of both children originally, though Rowe sued the singer in 2006 in an attempt to regain custody. Jackson and Rowe settled out of court for undisclosed terms, with Jackson retaining custody.
Jackson's youngest son, nicknamed Blanket, was carried by a surrogate mother in Europe whose name has not been released. It's unknown who would get custody of him.
"When you're talking about children, the first question is: What's in the best interest of those children?" says NBC News' legal analyst Dan Abrams. "Some people will say, 'Well, [Rowe] gave up custody.' But that doesn't mean forever. Now that Michael Jackson has died, she can certainly come back into the picture and say, 'Wait a second. It is in the best interests of the children to be back with me.' "
While Jackson had claimed that his eldest children were conceived naturally, Debbie Rowe contends that Michael, Jr. and Paris were conceived through artificial insemination with donated sperm.
"This is not a battle between a biological parent and a nonbiological parent," Abrams said. "This is going to be, if Debbie Rowe gets involved, a biological parent versus the family of the caregiver."
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2009-06-26 08:51:40