Judge Names Special Guardian for Jackson's Kids

ConsumersCrime, Law and JusticeJustice SystemFamilyMichael JacksonKatherine JacksonDeath

LOS ANGELES -- A judge has appointed a probate attorney to serve as a special guardian for Michael Jackson's children in the settling of their father's estate.

Attorney Margaret G. Lodise is to advocate for the best interests of the performer's two sons and daughters in potential disputes between the estate's administrators and Jackson's mother, the other major beneficiary of his lucrative music empire.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff raised his concern after being told by attorneys for the special administrators of Jackson's estate that Katherine Jackson and Michael's three children have a "significant interest" in the trust set up in Michael's will.

The special guardian's role would be different from that of their guardian and grandmother, Katherine Jackson.

Attorneys for the estate argued that time is running short to make the business deals happen.

Attorneys for AEG Live and Bravado say the deals they want approved involve merchandising and an exhibition of Michael Jackson memorabilia.

They said getting the deals approved quickly is important to avoid cancellation of customer orders, reduce the chance of counterfeiting and capitalize on consumer interest.

Katherine acted as temporary special administrator of her son's estate until John Branca and John McClain were appointed. Both men were named in Jackson's will as executors of the estate.

Katherine Jackson has said she wants more say in guiding estate matters. Attorneys for Branca and McClain have said in response that they will keep her lawyers informed about their activities on behalf of the estate, including potential business opportunities.

They also have said they will ask the judge to allow estate funds to be used to grant a special monthly allowance to Katherine for her expenses in caring for her grandchildren.

Last week, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff granted Katherine permanent guardianship of Jackson's three children, as was decided in an agreement with Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe.

Beckloff also granted 79-year-old Katherine Jackson a monthly allowance from her son's estate, however, the amount of the stipend was not disclosed.

The judge approved nearly 84 percent of the amount her lawyers requested, citing duplicate expenses.

The allowance were approved retroactively to June 25, when the King of Pop died.

Shortly after the hearing, a rare home video was released showing Michael Jackson playing with his children, Prince and Paris, on their birthdays.

The kids can be heard on the video telling Michael how much they love him.Embedded video from CNN Video

Katherine had remained temporary guardian during the negotiation process, and the children have been living at the Jackson family's compound in Encino.

In a will signed in 2002, Michael Jackson indicated he wanted his mother to care for his children if he died. He listed Diana Ross as a backup guardian.

Rowe, the mother of Jackson's two oldest children, wasn't given any role in the will.

Under the custody agreement, Rowe will maintain her legal parental rights and will be given visitation rights.

A child psychologist will be jointly selected and appointed to decide on the timing, frequency and manner of visits, according to the agreement. Both sides will pay for the psychologist.

"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," L. Londell McMillan and Diane Goodman, attorneys for Mrs. Jackson, wrote in a statement.

"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."

Eric M. George, an attorney for Rowe, called the agreement a "dignified outcome."

Rowe, 50, did not seek custody of Jackson's children.

Rowe was married to Jackson from 1996 to 1999, and is the mother of his two oldest children, 12-year-old Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., known as Prince Michael and 11-year-old Paris Michael Katherine Jackson.

Moreover, much has been made of the fact that Rowe attempted to relinquish her parental rights to the children during her divorce from Jackson.

In 2001, she wrote a petition to sever her parental rights, saying she thought Jackson was doing a good parenting job.

And during her 2006 custody struggle with Jackson, Rowe indicated she had not seen the children since 2005, shortly after Jackson was acquitted of child molestation charges and moved overseas with his kids.

Rumors have also swirled that Michael Jackson is not the biological father of any of the three children, and that Debbie Rowe is not the biological mother of Prince Michael and Paris Jackson. There were also reports that Michael never legally adopted any of the children.

None of the rumors have been confirmed.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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