Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine and his ex-wife Debbie Rowe have reportedly struck a deal to protect the superstar’s children from his father, Joe Jackson
Lawyers acting for Debbie Rowe and Katherine Jackson are said to have met on Friday to discuss how to exclude Joe Jackson from bringing up Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11, and seven-year-old Blanket. Under their deal, Katherine will raise the children in accordance with Michael’s will and Debbie will drop her custody claim, but will have regular access. The pair are said to be close to putting aside their differences to prevent Joe Jackson having anything to do the children’s upbringing. Michael famously accused his father of beating him as a boy and Joe, who is estranged from Katherine, is widely blamed by fans for many of the singer’s problems.
The custody hearing that was scheduled for today was postponed until July 20, giving the pair time to iron out the details.
Debbie and Katherine have been united in fury at comments by Joe – who made millions out of his son’s success – about Paris and Blanket’s potential as performers. Not to mention the tasteless plug of his own record company in the aftermath of his son’s death on June 25. Joe has already revealed he has big dreams for Blanket. He said last week: “I keep looking at Paris and she wants to do something and Blanket, he can really dance.”
In Michael Jackson’s will he left instructions that Katherine should raise the children and stipulated that his old friend, soul legend Diana Ross should become their guardian in the event of Katherine’s death. Joe Jackson was not mentioned in the will.
A source close to Debbie’s attorney told the Sunday Mirror: ‘The last thing she wanted was for those kids to be looked after by Joe and go through what Michael went through. ‘When they were together, Michael poured out his heart about how much he loathed Joe for what he had done. And Katherine knows it’s best for the children if they can settle it between themselves and keep it all out of the courts.’ The source went on to say: ‘They can’t stop Joseph seeing the kids at family functions and parties, but they can and will fight to prevent him having any formal role whatsoever in their upbringing.’ In 2007, Michael accused his father of beating him when he was a child. ‘My father would rehearse with a belt in his hand, you couldn’t mess up. I would never get spanked during rehearsals or practice – but afterwards was when I got in trouble,’ the singer said.
Since Michael’s death, Joe has reportedly been appraising the children’s performing potential. ‘I keep looking at Paris and she wants to do something and Blanket, he can really dance,’ the Jackson patriarch said. Despite being estranged from Katherine for five years, he has also insisted they should have joint custody of the children. ‘We should keep them all happy, feed ’em like they’re supposed to be fed and let them get rest, plenty of sleep and grow up be strong Jacksons,’ he said.
The children are currently living in the Jackson family compound in Encino, California, where they are receiving grief counseling. As part of the grieving process, they are being encouraged to talk about their dad as much as possible. Meanwhile, Katherine is re-introducing them into a more normal routine than they would have been used to, buying ordinary supermarket toys for them rather than the hand-picked luxury items Michael gave them then often threw away, paranoid about germs and bugs. Jackson’s brother Jermaine spoke about how the children have taken comfort from their cousins, uncles and aunts and have started playing with other kids at the family home.