LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Michael Jackson’s mother was reinstated today as permanent guardian of her late pop star son’s three children, but their cousin, TJ, will remain in his role as temporary guardian pending an Aug. 22 hearing on whether his status also should be made permanent.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff last week named TJ, the son of Michael Jackson’s brother, Tito, temporary guardian of Jackson’s sons Prince, 15, and Blanket, 10, and his 14-year-old daughter, Paris. The move came in response to an extended absence by Jackson’s mother, Katherine, who had been the children’s guardian since shortly after the singer’s death.
Attorneys for the parties presented Beckloff today with the proposed co-guardianship arrangement, which the judge approved. He also said the children can now travel outside of California with family members, reversing his July 25 order that they remain within the state.
Margaret Lodise, an attorney and special guardian appointed by Beckloff in 2009 to look after the children’s interests, told Beckloff that singer Diana Ross approved the co-guardianship. The former Supremes lead singer is the successor guardian to the children in the event something happens to Katherine Jackson.
In a sworn declaration submitted to the court, 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 Tuscon, 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
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.
Last week, Beckloff ordered that a probate court investigator interview the children and report to him on the status of the siblings. TJ Jackson’s attorney, Charles Shultz, said such investigations are routine.
Shultz said TJ and Katherine have a common desire to do what is best for the three children.
“They respect each other,” he said. “My client in no way was trying to displace his grandmother.”
Katherine Jackson’s attorney, Perry Sanders, said after the hearing that the probate court investigator’s report was confidential and the results were known only to the judge. But he said Beckloff revealed he was pleased with what he read.
“He was pleasantly surprised to see how well these kids are doing,” Sanders said.
TJ Jackson was named temporary guardian of the children July 25 amid Katherine Jackson’s absence. She has since said that she went to the spa to rest, but her absence sparked a family feud that included a series of angry Twitter messages by Paris Jackson, who demanded to speak to her grandmother and insinuated that some of her relatives were conspiring to keep them separated.
Her disappearance also 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.
The family’s internal strife has calmed in recent days, despite reports that some Jackson family members have been barred from visiting the Calabasas home where Michael Jackson’s children live with Katherine and TJ.
Part of the dispute centered on the desire of some of Michael Jackson’s siblings to displace John Branca and John McClain as executors of his estate on grounds they were trying to manipulate and control the family.
Lawyer Howard Weitzman, on behalf of the executors, said today’s results were satisfying to his clients.
“It’s all worked out from our perspective in a good way,” he said.
Weitzman declined to take questions from reporters.