Following Michael Jackson’s death yesterday, the fate of his three children is likely to fall into the hands of the lawyers. Michael had full custody rights of 12-year-old Michael Joseph Jr (also known as Prince Michael), 11-year-old Paris Michael Katherine and 7-year-old Prince Michael II (also known as Blanket).
His oldest two children were born to his second wife, nurse Debbie Rowe, but she later gave up her prenatal rights, which means she may have no legal right to look after them. Indeed, the entertainment website TMZ claims to have uncovered court papers that record the moment that Debbie relinquished all rights as a mum, even in the event of Michael’s death.
Q Have you ever considered the possibility if Michael should die, what would happen to the children?
Debbie I’m sure he’s… He has a wonderful person in mind to take care of them.
Q You understand that you will not have the right to care of the children
Debbie No. And I don’t want to. And… not that I don’t love them. I do. I think they’re adorable. They’re his kids. They’re his kids. They’re not my kids. They’re his kids.
Q You completely understand that when the order terminating parental right is entered…
Debbie Today. Right?
Q Well, it’s up to the judge.
Q … That is will cut off unequivocally…
Debbie Absolutely. Done. Complete. I don’t have any rights.
Q … Al rights and responsibilities regarding the children?
It remains to be seen whether Debbie now changes her mind and seeks to legally fight for the return of her maternal rights. But even if she was successful, the question remains as to what would happen to Michael’s third child.
Michael never identified the mother of Prince Michael II, revealing that his second son was the result of artificial insemination of a surrogate mother using his own sperm.
Mystery has continued to surround the identity of the three children, with Michael making sure they wore masks whenever they were out in public. He also had to fight off rumours about whether he really was the biological father – particularly of his two oldest children, who are both fair-skinned. However, Michael always insisted that they were his own biological children.
In the infamous TV interview with Martin Bashir in 2003, he firmly stated, “I used a surrogate mother [for Prince Michael II] and my own sperm cells. I had my own sperm cells in my other two children. They are all my children.”
It hasn’t been revealed whether Michael had drawn up a will naming a guardian of the children. However one of the Jackson family’s lawyers, Brian Oxman, was quoted by Radar Online suggesting that Michael’s mother Katherine would be the one to bring them up, saying “probably Mrs Jackson will take care of them, she loves them dearly.”
Without a doubt, this will keep the lawyers busy for a long time to come, especially when they start looking into who will inherit Michael’s money (however much is left of it). However, our thoughts are with the children, who are now in effect orphans, due to the unorthodox family set-up that Michael had put in place.
Who do you think should have custody of Michael’s children? Tell us below…