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Jackson's mom gets custody of kids

August 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Michael Jackson's mother Katherine was granted permanent custody of the pop singer's children and a monthly allowance in court on Monday, but questions over who will control Jackson's $500 million estate are still being ironed out.The one thing not challenged in court is custody of Jackson's children. Katherine Jackson was named permanent guardian of her son's three children.

Katherine Jackson had temporary custody until now, and the children had been staying with her at the Jackson family's Encino home since the pop star's death on June 25.

"Everyone sought the same objective, doing what was best for the children of Debbie Rowe and Michael Jackson," said Eric George, Debbie Rowe's attorney.

"Today's result follows, 5-and-a-half weeks after the tragic death of Michael Jackson, eliminates uncertainty and offers some stability to the lives of these children," George said.

Rowe will have visitation rights. She is the biological mother of Jackson's two oldest children, Prince Michael and Paris.

The ruling came after a few tense moments in which an attorney for Beverly Hills Dr. Arnold Klein, Michael Jackson's longtime friend and dermatologist, raised nonspecific objections to the custody arrangements. The attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, said they were based on the doctor's long-term relationship with the singer and his children.

"Legally, he is not a presumed parent," Kaplan said. He said Klein had concerns about the children's education and other day-to-day parenting issues.

Dr. Klein has stirred questions in the past. He says he had donated sperm to help Jackson become a father, and has not explicitly denied his sperm resulted in children.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff ultimately determined Klein didn't have legal standing to object to the care of Jackson's children, and affirmed the custody agreement.

Beckloff granted Katherine Jackson a monthly allowance from her son's estate for her and her grandchildren, which is subject to review in six months. Jackson supported all of them when he was alive.

The dollar amount of the allowance is sealed.

The judge also ruled Jackson's longtime attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain will retain control of his financial affairs until at least October. They have been making several multi-millionaire dollar deals for his music.

Branca and McClain were named as co-executors of Jackson's 2002 will, and have already received millions of dollars in the singer's money, property and a life insurance payout, court filings show. The money is being placed into a private trust, which designates that 40 percent of the estate goes to Katherine Jackson, 40 percent goes to the children and 20 percent goes to various charities.

"The judge admitted the will to probate, Michael's will, so there is no challenge by Mrs. Jackson and it was admitted with her consent. And we're quite pleased that the judge did what we thought was appropriate," said Howard Weitzman, spokesman for estate executors.

Jackson's estate is estimated in court documents to be worth at least $500 million.

Next week, a judge will decide if Katherine Jackson has the right to oppose the appointments of Branca and McClain to oversee Jackson's estate, although she's given no indication she will do so.

Also Monday, it was announced that the estate has reached a settlement with AEG, the concert promoter that had been preparing for the King of Pop's 50 comeback shows in London. Terms were not disclosed, and the agreement will be filed under seal pending approval from Beckloff, who scheduled a hearing on the matter for next Monday.

Branca said during a break that the settlement also included companies who owned merchandising rights and rehearsal footage.

The judge also said that Mrs. Jackson should be able to review her son's contracts with AEG. The promoter had sought to prevent her attorneys access without a confidentiality order. Beckloff ruled that Katherine Jackson can review the contracts, but only under certain conditions.

Meanwhile, questions about how the pop star died continue. In a phone interview with Fox News, Katherine Jackson said she didn't believe her son died of natural causes, saying he's "too young" for that to happen.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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