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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 06/29/2009

What Will Happen to Michael Jackson's Kids?

By Liz Kelly

If Michael Jackson's movements of the past decade were shrouded in mystery and rumor, the lives of his children were perhaps more so. Rarely seen in public, Prince Michael, 12, Paris Michael, 11 and Prince Michael II (aka "Blanket"), 7, may find themselves at the center of a legal battle over custody and the rights to what remains of Jackson's fortune.

But what the kids need now is stability, says licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Bonior.

"That most likely means keeping them in the same place where they've lived and trying to keep as many of the same people -- friends, child care providers, and family members -- near them, along with as much of their daily routine as possible."

A custody dispute would likely be between Jackson's parents -- Katherine and Joe -- and Debbie Rowe, the mother of Jackson's two older children, son Prince Michael, 12, and daughter Paris Michael, 11, though Jackson's former nanny is also trying to make contact with the children.

Below a look at the case for the possible guardians:


Katherine and Joe Jackson. (Getty Images, AP)

Katherine and Joe Jackson
Michael Jackson's parents, Katherine, 79, and Joe, 80, currently have custody of the three children at Jackson's Los Angeles home and have signaled a desire for the arrangement to be made permanent. Although the grandparents of Jackson's three children may have the strongest claim, their advanced age could work against them. Joe Jackson also has a reputation as a strict disciplinarian -- he once admitted to whipping Michael with a switch -- and Michael said in interviews that he was physically and emotionally abused by his father.


Debbie Rowe. (AP)

Debbie Rowe
As the biological mother of Jackson's two older children -- Prince and Paris -- the former plastic surgeon's assistant may have a strong custody claim. But if she did gain custody of the older two, what would become of 7-year-old Blanket, whose mother's identity has never been revealed? Bonior says separating the siblings would be inadvisable.

"Disrupting their rhythm with each other," says Bonior, "and their ability to mourn together and support each other might cause an undue strain."

Rowe's estrangement from Jackson, limited contact with the kids and 2005 attempt to give up her parental rights could also work against her claim. Adding to the confusion, Rowe now says Jackson is not the children's biological father.


Grace Rwaramba. (AP)

Grace Rwaramba
This former office assistant turned nanny claims to have a close bond with Jackson's three kids and is currently trying to get past the gauntlet of Katherine Jackson to see the children.

"I took these babies in my arm on the first day of their life," Rwaramba told a British reporter. "They are my babies."

Rwaramba worked for Jackson for 17 years and moved with him from Bahrain to Ireland to Germany following his acquittal in the 2005 child molestation trial, but was recently fired for undisclosed reasons.

---
Update: A judge today granted Katherine Jackson temporary custody of the three Jackson children. On Aug. 3, the judge will consider Jackson's petition to become the children's permanent guardian and administrator of their estates. -- 1:45 p.m. ET

By Liz Kelly  | June 29, 2009; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Michael Jackson  
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Comments

How about Janet? Other than flashing a boob at the world a few years back, she seems like the most stable of the Jackson clan.

Was Debbie Rowe paid by MJ for these kids?

Posted by: kvs09 | June 29, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Now seriously, I've been looking (with no success) to any reporter that will seriously analyze the standing of the kids that were allegedly abused by Michael Jackson. The man could dance and sing, good... he made money off of it. but he also kept an unusual bond with children.
will those out-of-court agreements ever come to light? How does that work? Once a party dies, isn't the information public?

Posted by: ileschinder | June 29, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Paging Madonna.

Paging Angelina.

Please pick up any white courtesy phone.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | June 29, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

CNN is reporting that the grandparents just filed petition for permanent custody. Nice timing, Liz. I thought Debbie didn't want them?

Posted by: zn123 | June 29, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Actually - Janet doesn't seem that stable to me - at least not as stable as some of the other 9 siblings. Aren't some of them in long-term marriages and have raised children? Tito? Jermaine? I can't remember their names - but I remember a profile on the married ones in the 80s before some big concert, and they seemed to be living normal lives. Plus - they would be younger than the grandparents, AND as far as I can tell, they haven't pushed thier children into show business and exploited them.

And, sasquatch, please, please spare these poor children who are already suffering from being added to either Angelina or Madonna's collections.

Posted by: Amelia5 | June 29, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, spoke too soon, its just legal guardianship.

Posted by: zn123 | June 29, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

After Rowe's admission that Jackson wasn't the father - all I could think was "Prince Frederick von Anhalt - where are you when we need you..."

Still - Sasquatch is right - Madonna, time for the big leagues girl... you've been practicing for this your whole life.

Posted by: quintiliusvarus | June 29, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Ideally, Michael would have had a will and custody arrangements already in place in the event of his death. And, I find it hard to believe that anyone with such wealth/property/access to legal advice could not have planned for his death, but so far we don't know what was planned. First, Debbie Rowe legally gave up all of her parental rights. She has also said she has no interest in raising the children, so she is not under consideration. I think that they should be with either their grandparents or any of the siblings that are stable and willing to care for them. What they need is to be with their family. I don't think there should be any fighting about who gets custody. It should be worked out privately within the family. And, there is no way that a nanny has any claim to these children. It is ridiculous of her to even make a claim. I understand she has a close bond with them and I would hope the family would continue to let her visit the children, but to say that makes her the best legal guardian is incredibly arrogant. All it means is that she was a wonderful nanny.

Posted by: SweetieJ | June 29, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Handing the kids off from Michael to Joe is going from woody to uber-woody. Between Madge and the Republic of Brangelina, I'm thinkin Madge.

Posted by: reddragon1 | June 29, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Can we all agree that the first thing the children's new guardians should do is give the kids some real names?

Posted by: MStreet1 | June 29, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Somebody who was not financially supported by Michael would be a good idea. The oldest Jackson daughter, Ruby is quite well financially off and stayed out of the craziness of the family.

This is not news that Michael is not the father of the children. That came out in 2005 when Rowe was trying to get visitation. She has built a bond with the children, but it has been difficult because Michael really interfered and even sued her once over the financial arrangement.

As for the nanny, pumping your employer's stomach rather than getting him help disqualifies her as a guardian. Plus, there are reams of documents showing how she was one of those manipulating Michael to keep the cash cow flowing. I especially like the Vegas penthouse apartment she bought herself with Michael's money.

Besides the parents' age, there is their tenuous financial situation. The title of their home is in Michael's name and it is mortgaged to the hilt. Janet had to step in and save it from foreclosure at least once. It is doubtful that without Michael's money they can support the three kids.

Posted by: epjd | June 29, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Somebody who was not financially supported by Michael would be a good idea. The oldest Jackson daughter, Ruby is quite well financially off and stayed out of the craziness of the family.

This is not news that Michael is not the father of the children. That came out in 2005 when Rowe was trying to get visitation. She has built a bond with the children, but it has been difficult because Michael really interfered and even sued her once over the financial arrangement.

As for the nanny, pumping your employer's stomach rather than getting him help disqualifies her as a guardian. Plus, there are reams of documents showing how she was one of those manipulating Michael to keep the cash cow flowing. I especially like the Vegas penthouse apartment she bought herself with Michael's money.

Besides the parents' age, there is their tenuous financial situation. The title of their home is in Michael's name and it is mortgaged to the hilt. Janet had to step in and save it from foreclosure at least once. It is doubtful that without Michael's money they can support the three kids.

Posted by: epjd | June 29, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Apparently what I wrote is darn brilliant, it had to be said twice. Sorry about that double post Lizards.

Posted by: epjd | June 29, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

For the Jackson children's new parents, I propose Rance and Jean Howard, who managed to guide son Ron through the shoals of childhood celebrity to a (seemingly) normal adulthood.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | June 29, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

New names for the Jackson children?

How about Tootles, Nibs and Curly? Because if the Jackson kids don't qualify as Lost Boys, no one does.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | June 29, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Sas, did you just give Paris a sex-change? Ouch!

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | June 29, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Nope. She can be Tootles.

Or Nibs....at least until puberty.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | June 29, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I hope whomever does end up with those poor kids has some therapists on standby, because growing up as they did, they're going to need it.

Posted by: Californian11 | June 29, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Much as I would vote for stability (the best choice of which here is the nanny), the fact is that whoever raises these kids is going to have to have a very strong constitution and tons of chutzpah to fend off all the wolves after these kids.

I don't think Nanny Grace nor Debbie Rowe has it in her to be all that. It would be best if all three kids all stay together as well, so again, I can't see Debbie there for that reason either.

Joe would never let one of his kids (including Janet) have custody because he would be controlling them (and we've all seen how well he did with Michael!).

Even if Tito or Jermaine or whoever does have a stable marriage, the custody battle would become more of a Michael's Legacy battle for the cash to be made once NeverGraceLand starts raking in the dough.

This is actually a case where those veils did help protect those kids' identities some. Hmm. Go figure. Bizarre, yes, but aside from that one set of photos recently, could you pick them out of a crowd (as opposed to, say, the omnipresent Suri Cruise)? Michael did kinda know what he was doing there -- would I want my kids wearing masks all the time? No. But it did serve a purpose. Again, go figure.

There is no clear choice in who should raise these children. They need a strong father and/or mother who has experience with adoption, famous children, lots of cash and legal expertise, with a generous helping of love and stability.

Why is Mia Farrow coming to mind?

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | June 29, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who saw CNN's Don Lemon interview Joe Jackson at the BET Music Awards would be horrified that Joe spent more time hawking his new "Blu-Ray" record label" than honoring his son's memory.

This is turning into a Hindu mythological drama. The Yayati complex is one where the father destroys the son.

Perhaps we'll have a Bollywood movie on the Jackson family someday.

In the meantime, I don't believe he has the best interests of his grandchildren at heart. Perhaps his wife does, but that is of little comfort.

Posted by: mdreader01 | June 29, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Whatever happens, I predict that Nancy Grace will have a lot to say about it.

Posted by: mdreader01 | June 29, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Joe Jackson can play Captain Hook to the Lost Boys.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | June 29, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Mia Farrow is a good idea, as she has plenty of her own money and won't be after the Jacko gravy train (if there is any left).

Posted by: Californian11 | June 29, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I would like to nominate Jaime Spears as guardian of the Jackson children. He has pretty good experience fending off vultures.

Posted by: VaLGaL | June 29, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Can we all agree that the first thing the children's new guardians should do is give the kids some real names?

Posted by: MStreet1 | June 29, 2009 12:25 PM
*****
Outstanding!

Posted by: jaybbub | June 29, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Jon and Kate should adopt them.

Posted by: hbyrne | June 29, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

It should be a cold day in hell before Joe Jackson is granted permanent guardianship of those children. Exhibit A: Michael Jackson.

Posted by: suzannepdc | June 29, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Michael Jackson is dead. His father is a martinet. There are three kids without a family. Hangers-on are circling . . . yada, yada, yada.

OK, so, enough about MJ.

Anyone see "Hung" on HBO last evening? Was it any good?

Respectfully,

Curmudgeon

Posted by: bmschumacher | June 29, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Anyone see "Hung" on HBO last evening? Was it any good?

Respectfully,

Curmudgeon

Posted by: bmschumacher | June 29, 2009
-------------------------------------------

Fair to middling. Not great. Not terrible.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | June 29, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I KNEW I could count on you, Sas.

BTW, my turbo GPS places the QuatchCave somewhere along the Appalachian Trail.

As ever,

Curmudgeon

Posted by: bmschumacher | June 29, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Mudge
BTW, my turbo GPS places the QuatchCave somewhere along the Appalachian Trail.

Ideal for those in search of a politician-free zone, right?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | June 29, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Exactly right, Nosy.

And none too soon, if you ask me.

VTY,

Curmudgeon

Posted by: bmschumacher | June 29, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

"Michael Jackson's parents, Katherine, 79, and Joe, 80, ...have signaled a desire for the arrangement to be made permanent."


At that age, "permanent" could be about as long as Britney's first marriage...

Posted by: byoolin1 | June 29, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Didn't MJ, at one point, want to be frozen in one of those cyro-chambers and await the day he could be revived and be brought back to health?

Personally, I wouldn't recommend it, MJ. After all, look what happened to Joan Rivers?

Sincerely yours,

Curmudgeon

Posted by: bmschumacher | June 29, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I propose Rance and Jean Howard,
***
unfortunately, nosy, jean howard died a few years ago. but rance is still alive. so i'm w/you on him as guardian.

Posted by: frieda406 | June 29, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Of all the Jackson family the most stable is Rebbie (sp?). She has been married for over 30 years to the same man. Although an outsider to the family she has raised her own children and to me at least, seems the best of all worlds.

Posted by: mkennedy331 | June 29, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

The thing that makes Rebbie the best choice for guardian probably makes her the worst choice, too.

She probably doesn't know the kids very well and they probably don't know her, either.

'sigh'

Sadly,

Curmudgeon

Posted by: bmschumacher | June 29, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Of all the Jackson family the most stable is Rebbie (sp?). She has been married for over 30 years to the same man. Although an outsider to the family she has raised her own children and to me at least, seems the best of all worlds.

Posted by: mkennedy331 | June 29, 2009 5:06 PM
==============
Marlon Jackson is also happily married to his first and only wife. They have one grandchild.

Posted by: mdreader01 | June 29, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Let me be the first to say - MICHAEL JACKSON IS NOT DEAD! He was spotted in the men's room at the Beverly Hills Hotel yesterday. I think he is heading towards Las Vegas.

Posted by: pgr88 | June 29, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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