Reports are coming in every which way about Michael Jackson’s ex-wife Debbie Rowe and the possibility at an attempted custody bid set for Tuesday. Here is what I do know:
One of Debbie Rowe‘s lawyers said Thursday in a press conference that Debbie has not reached a final decision about her two children with Michael Jackson. The lawyer, Eric George, said that reports Rowe wants custody of the children are true but that information is a snippet of fact in a larger picture. “Debbie Rowe has not reached a final decision concerning the custody proceedings,” attorney Eric M. George told reporters during a press conference Thursday. “As many of you know, my belief is that the pending custody proceedings are the most private and the most sensitive of matters as they impact the lives and the fates of young children. To that end, I’ve endeavored out of respect for Michael’s children and family, especially in this time of grieving, to keep silence on these matters, to deny all interview requests and to share only that information involving upcoming public court proceedings.” Rowe’s final decision about the children, according to the lawyer, will be reached in a legal setting, out of respect for Michael Jackson and the children.
Although Rowe herself has not spoken publicly about the custody proceedings, George said, “I have no reason to doubt that what was reported from that conversation was accurately and ethically reported, but that said, it would be a distortion of the truth to allow that single snapshot of a single conversation, to stand as the truth on Debbie’s position on this sensitive matter.”
“Once again, the truth is that Debbie has not reached a final decision concerning the pending custody proceedings,” he concluded. “When Debbie does take a position in the public forum of a court, those positions will, of course, be conveyed to all interested persons. In the meantime, I very much appreciate everybody’s continued respect for Debbie’s privacy at this time, and I’m very sorry, but I cannot address any questions at this time.”
Despite her lawyers comment, Rowe earlier made her position clear on July 2 in an interview with a Los Angeles television station, saying, “I want my children. I am stepping up,” she told a reporter for NBC4 in a 90-minute phone conversation. “I have to.” Rowe also said she’d be willing to take custody of Blanket to keep the three children together, submit to any testing, including DNA to prove that she is the children’s true biological mother, and she may seek a restraining order to keep her former father-in-law, Joe Jackson, away from her children. But on Thursday, Rowe told NBC’s Henry that she would seek a restraining order to keep Jackson’s father, Joe Jackson, away from the children.
Former attorney to Debbie Rowe, Iris Finsilver, said the mother of Prince, 12, and Paris, 11, spoke to her former client and said, “She is going to be pursuing custody of the children. Frankly, she won’t have to fight for them,” Finsilver tells PEOPLE. “She is the children’s biological mother. She loves her children.”
The kids, along with a third child, Prince Michael II (Blanket), 7, whose mother is unknown, are in the temporary court-ordered care of Jackson family matriarch Katherine Jackson, 79, whom the singer named as guardian in his 2002 will. Diana Ross was also named as a guardian, in the event that Katherine is no longer living.
A source close to the Jackson family says they are prepared to fight Rowe in court and intend to seek permanent custody. Last week, Katherine filed a petition in Los Angeles Probate Court seeking legal guardianship of the children. (In her 22-page petition, she claims the children “have no relationship with their biological mother.”) A guardianship hearing scheduled for Monday has been postponed until July 13 at the request of attorneys for Rowe and Katherine Jackson.
Rowe wed Jackson in 1996 where he was a patient in the dermatologist’s office where she worked as a nurse. The children were born through artificial insemination, but the new issue of Us Weekly reports that the children’s father is Arnold Klein, Jackson’s L.A.-based dermatologist and Rowe’s former boss. After Jackson and Rowe divorced in 1999, she agreed to give up her parental rights. ‘These are his children,’ she testified in court. ‘I had the children for him. They wouldn’t be on this planet if it wasn’t for my love for him. I did it for him to become a father, not for me to become a mother. You earn the title “parent”. I have done absolutely nothing to earn that title.’ An appeals court hearing later ruled there was an error in the petition, but Jackson and Miss Rowe settled out of court in 2006.
In a bizarre 2003 interview, Jackson told a US news channel he snatched daughter Paris as soon as she was born and ‘just went home with her, with all the placenta all over her’, leaving Rowe behind in the hospital. When his son, Prince Michael, told the interviewer ‘I haven’t got a mother’, Jackson assented ‘That’s right’. He said his children would not benefit from contact with Miss Rowe because ‘she can’t handle it’.