After the touching tribute Paris, daughter of Michael Jackson, gave her daddy at the memorial service, media attention turned to the future of Jackson’s three young children.
Despite the fact that the court gave Michael’s mother, Katherine, guardianship over Prince Michael, Paris and Prince Michael II, the legal tug-of-war over custody continues.
Because the two older children, Prince Michael and Paris, were born to a married couple, under California law there is a presumption that the custody of minors will be granted to the legal parents. That presumption of custody would result in the surviving parent, Debbie Rowe, getting custody.
In the past, pursuant to an arrangement with Jackson, Rowe attempted to give up her status as legal parent, but she later returned to court and had her parental rights restored.
Rowe’s effort to end her parental rights will likely be brought up in the legal discussion, but in the state of California, parents’ rights are not terminated without a judicial investigation and hearing.
Still, the presumption gives Rowe custody of the children, if there is no evidence that refutes the idea the custody is in the best interests of the children. The law allows judges to overrule this presumption based on proof that parental custody would be detrimental to the children.
Everything hinges on the evidence. If evidence is presented that Rowe has little or no relationship with the children, her custody will be denied; if evidence is presented that the children have frequently spent time with her and know her as their mother, she will be given custody.
If Rowe wins custody of the two older children, she may also get custody of the third child, Prince Michael II, despite having no claim as the legal mother, because of the court's desire to keep all of the siblings together.
Jackson's will names his mother, Katherine, as guardian and states that if she were unavailable, the children would go to singer and actress Diana Ross.
However, a will is not normally effective for custody purposes in a case in which one parent's will deprives another parent of custody.
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