Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jackson mother granted custody of children

Updated on : Tuesday, August 04, 2009

LOS ANGELES: A Los Angeles judge named Michael Jackson's mother as permanent guardian of the star's children Monday, ignoring a surprise late bid by the singer's dermatologist to have a say in their upbringing.

Lawyers for Katherine Jackson, 79, and the King of Pop's ex-wife Debbie Rowe had last week agreed details of custody arrangements concerning children Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11 and Prince Michael II, 7.

But what was expected to be a straightforward hearing to approve the agreement on Monday took a bizarre turn when an attorney for Jackson's skin doctor Arnold Klein appeared at the hearing.

Lawyer Mark Vincent Kaplan said Klein wanted to "have a voice" in issues concerning the children's "education, healthcare and welfare."

Asked repeatedly by Judge Mitchell Beckloff to state what Klein's interest was, Kaplan said it was due to his client's "longstanding relationship with the children and longstanding relationship with Mr Jackson."

Klein was "not a presumed parent," Kaplan said, although Monday's twist is likely to stir up fresh speculation about whether the doctor is the biological father of Jackson's eldest two children.

In interviews last month, Klein refused to categorically deny that he was the children's father. "All I can tell you is, to the best of my knowledge, I am not the father of these children," Klein told media.

Judge Beckloff appeared to disregard Klein's request on Monday as a move by "nothing more than a concerned friend" before inking the custody agreement.

"It's in the best interests of the minors," Beckloff said, adding that Klein would have to file a formal request if he wanted to challenge the details of the custody agreement.

Under the terms of the deal, Katherine Jackson, who attended Monday's hearing, gets permanent custody while Rowe receives visitation rights to Prince Michael and Paris, born during her 1996-1999 marriage to Jackson.

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

Rowe will receive no money beyond an existing spousal agreement, reportedly worth some 8.5 million dollars.

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