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Who will have custody of Jackson's kids?

June 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The late superstar Michael Jackson has left behind three young children. Many people are wondering what will happen to Jackson's kids now that he's gone.Debbie Rowe is the mother of Jackson's two older children, but the mother of the youngest child is unknown. It appears Rowe may have parental rights to the kids, which will likely prompt legal battles in court.

Jackson's kids range in age from 12-year-old Prince Michael Jr., to 11-year-old Paris Katherine and finally to 7-year-old Prince Michael II.

Jackson made international headlines when he dangled his youngest child out of a hotel window, igniting criticism. Jackson later admitted he was wrong.

Jackson paid the older children's mother, former nurse Debbie Rowe, to give him sole custody. However, upon his death, she may be able to claim custody now.

"The court always maintains jurisdiction that is the power to decide what is in the best interest of minor children," said attorney Gloria Allred. "As to the youngest child, the youngest child has a mother whose name has never been disclosed."

It is unknown whether or not Jackson has set aside money for anyone who claims custody of his children. A friend and biographer of Jackson says the pop star wanted his nanny to have custody. However, the grandmother of the children may also seek custody.

Mark Lester is the godfather of Jackson's three children.

"Michael has a large family and I'm sure the kids will be well looked after," said Lester. "But I will do everything that would be required of me. I love those children. They're part of my family, so I'd do anything for those kids."

An attorney for Deborah Rowe, Iris Finsilver, said, "I have been in contact with Debbie, who is inconsolable. She is grieving and loved Michael Jackson very much. She is entitled to custody being that she is the natural mother, but that will be discussed down the road."

There have been many questions regarding the children's conception, their paternity and the way they have been raised.

Allred says a court will determine what is in the best interest of the children.

"Children are not a piece of property. They cannot be given away through a will. A preference can be indicated by the decedent and that preference will be given great weight. But it is not at all-conclusive, it is not binding on the court," said Allred.

There has been no word on the presence of a will, a trust, or life insurance policy for Michael Jackson. However, the children should be financially secure despite reports that Jackson was $400 million in debt. By some estimates his estate could be worth more than $1 billion.

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