Michael Jackson has more to worry about than his trial on charges of child molestation, as the singer's custody battle for his children is heating up.
Recently filed court documents reveal the nature of Jackson's confidentiality agreement with ex-wife Debbie Rowe, as well as how much she's fought to be part of her children's lives.
What Jackson's second ex-wife has been barred from doing, the documents say, is selling or giving interviews about "confidential information" regarding the singer and their two children, Paris and Prince. That includes paternity, Jackson's mental or physical condition, purported drug use, sexual behavior, the children's lifestyle, and their location, according to a declaration filed last month by Rowe's lawyer Iris Finsilver, who is asking the court to unseal the couple's original nondisclosure agreement on the basis that it does not contain confidential financial information, as Jackson's team claims.
While the October 1999 agreement doesn't include child-custody terms, it does say Rowe is not allowed to communicate with the children, Jackson or his representatives except to make travel arrangements or to send cards or letters to the children.
"What kind of man would fight so long, so hard, so expensive and so gut-wrenching [a] legal battle just so two minor children are prevented from even knowing their own mother?" Finsilver asks in the declaration, calling it ironic that Jackson has repeatedly claimed he's "never harmed any child."
Rowe did cede custody of the children in October 2001, but her lawyer says in the declaration that before Rowe agreed to terminate her parental rights, she "had many great difficulties in seeing her children for visitation periods with them." Finsilver also said the court has since tossed out Rowe's surrendering of her parental rights.
The couple have had a long string of court dates (see "Michael Jackson's Ex-Wife Asks Judge If She Can See Their Kids"), Finsilver wrote, complicated by Jackson's revolving door of legal teams who have stalled proceedings and also put incomplete and sometimes erroneous information into the court record.
"Truly, this case was an easy one to resolve last spring," Finsilver wrote. "Since Michael's new team came on board, this case has gone from one private judge to [family court] and the private family law judge, [arbitration], and now on to the court of appeal. Just this month, Michael has filed notice of appeal."
A hearing was scheduled Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, but the results are not yet public. Rowe has also been subpoenaed by Santa Barbara County prosecutors and is expected to be called to testify in Jackson's trial.
Calls to Jackson and Rowe's lawyers were not returned by press time.
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see "Michael Jackson Accused."