Attorneys for [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson's[/artist] mother, Katherine, and the singer's ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, released a joint statement Thursday (July 30) announcing the details of a custody arrangement for the late singer's children.
The custody plan, which applies only to the two oldest, Prince Michael, 12, and Paris Michael, 11 — who were conceived while Jackson and Rowe were briefly married — will have Katherine Jackson acting as their guardian. Rowe will have visitation rights for the two oldest, with the "timing, frequency and manner of visits ... implemented according to the best interests of the children, as determined by a child psychologist selected jointly, and paid jointly, by Katherine Jackson and Deborah Rowe."
According to the statement, the agreement will be presented for approval to the Los Angeles Superior Court judge handling the custody case at a hearing scheduled for Monday. Despite previous reports, the agreement does not involve any money changing hands. "The parties have neither sought nor agreed to any compensation to be exchanged, apart from the continuation of spousal-support payments that had previously been personally agreed to between Michael Jackson and Deborah Rowe," the statement reads.
Jackson had a third child, Prince Michael II (a.k.a. Blanket), born to a surrogate mother whose identity has never been revealed and who does not appear to be seeking custody. Jackson's father, Joseph Jackson, also claimed in an interview Wednesday that his son had a fourth child, 25-year-old Omer Bhatti, who was born after a one-night stand in the early 1980s; Bhatti has reportedly denied those allegations.
L. Londell McMillan, the attorney for Katherine Jackson, said of the agreement: "Mrs. Jackson and the family are pleased this matter is resolved and was handled in a caring, thoughtful and courteous manner by the parties and their representatives. We were all united in our goals to do what is best for Michael's wonderful children, and both Mrs. Jackson and Debbie Rowe were on the exact same page. Accordingly, although important issues had to be resolved, this was no legal contest but rather simply a process doing the right thing for the right reasons."
Eric M. George, an attorney for Rowe (who met Jackson when she served as the nurse at his dermatologist's office), said, "The parties engaged in a dignified discussion that resulted in a dignified outcome. The sole consideration between the parties was the best interests of the children. I'm proud to have worked with such professionals who represented Ms. Jackson, and I am particularly proud of Deborah for her integrity and selflessness."
Following Jackson's death at age 50 on June 25, Katherine Jackson, 79, was named the children's temporary guardian. Rowe and the singer were married, but following their split in 1999, she gave up parental rights to them and has reportedly not been involved in raising them. Jackson's will called for his mother to take care of the children, and though Rowe was reportedly interested in taking a stronger hand in their care following his passing, she received a financial settlement from Michael Jackson when they divorced in 2000, agreeing to give up parental rights. Those rights were reinstated in 2005 by a judge, and the former couple settled that custody dispute in 2006 under undisclosed terms, with Jackson retaining primary custody of the children.