Judge finalizes guardianship arrangement for Michael Jacksons kids
City News Service | 8/22/2012, 8:14 a.m.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.--Michael Jackson's mother and nephew will serve as co-guardians of the late singer's three children under an arrangement finalized today by a Los Angeles judge.
Earlier this month, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff reinstated Jackson's mother, Katherine, as the children's primary guardian and temporarily appointed TJ Jackson, the son of Michael Jackson's brother Tito, as a co-guardian, pending today's hearing to finalize the arrangement.
"It's clear to me the children have a very strong, loving relationship with TJ Jackson," Beckloff said today.
Katherine Jackson, 82, had been the guardian of the children--Prince, 15, Paris, 14, and Blanket, 10--since the singer's death in 2009. But she was removed from the position, and replaced by 34-year-old TJ Jackson, last month amid a family dispute that included an extended absence by Katherine Jackson, who was at a spa in Arizona for about 10 days and out of touch with the children.
Her absence, combined with the children's inability to contact her, led to a highly publicized family squabble and a series of angry Twitter messages by Paris Jackson, who insinuated some of her relatives were conspiring to keep her grandmother away.
Katherine Jackson's lawyer, Sandra Ribera, said her client approved of the arrangement with TJ.
"Mrs. Jackson is a well-informed, strong woman who makes her own decisions and can't be influenced by anyone when it comes to these children," Ribera said.
Beckloff issued his decision despite the protests of two people who identified themselves as Debra Jackson and her son, Anthony Jackson, who claims to be a cousin of Michael Jackson. They spoke at the judge's invitation and urged him to delay his decision, saying it was unfair to Katherine Jackson to make TJ a permanent co-guardian at this time.
The two, who also wrote a letter to Beckloff expressing their thoughts, declined to comment after the hearing.
In a sworn declaration submitted to the court earlier this month, Katherine Jackson said she did not know her grandchildren were trying to reach her while she was away for roughly 10 days at a spa in Tucson, Ariz., because an iPad was taken away from her, her room telephone was not working, and her television had sound, but no picture. She said that had she known the three were trying to contact her, she would not have been gone so long.
She also stated that she supports having TJ as co-guardian.
"I am, and have been, very close with my grandson TJ and have relied on him to help me raise Prince, Paris and Blanket since the death of their father," she said. "While I was away, I assumed that (the children) would be secure and safe in the hands of the person who had essentially been acting as an informal co-guardian on many matters with me since my appointment as guardian."
She said she realizes that certain situations can arise that would require TJ to have legal authority over the three children in order to ensure their safety and welfare.
"This realization is the reason I support TJ's continuation as a temporary co-guardian ... and to serve alone as guardian if there ever becomes a time that I can no longer serve with him as co-guardian," she said.
Katherine Jackson's absence coincided with a letter sent by Jackson siblings--Randy, Janet, Jermaine, Tito and Rebbie--to the executors of Michael Jackson's estate, challenging the validity of his will. They contended Jackson was in New York the day the executors claim he signed the will in Los Angeles.