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Court gives custody of Michael Jackson's kids to mom

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Jackson's mother was awarded custody of the singer's three children on Monday and his ex-wife Debbie Rowe was given visitation, formalizing an arrangement announced last week.

In a Los Angeles Superior Court hearing on issues of custody and Jackson's multimillion-dollar estate, lawyers for concert promoters AEG, which was behind the planned comeback tour of the King of Pop before his death in June, filed papers asking to be named a party to estate hearings and to be kept informed of business decisions.

Jackson's mother, Katherine, also asked for more say in guiding the matters of Jackson's estate, which has been valued at more than $500 million but is expected to grow given the huge demand for his music since he died of cardiac arrest.

Judge Mitchell Beckloff is expected to review the two requests later Monday. Entertainment lawyer John Branca and music executive John McClain were named executors of the estate in Jackson's 2002 will and have been working to generate more income for the estate.

So far, their work has included permission to reprint Jackson's 1988 autobiography "Moonwalk" and talks with AEG for the sale of rehearsal video shot in Los Angeles days before Jackson died and ahead of his comeback concerts in London.

Approving the custody arrangement, Beckloff agreed to provide Katherine Jackson, 79, an allowance paid by the singer's estate and a separate allowance for the three children. The amount was not released.

Lawyers for Katherine Jackson said the singer had supported his mother financially during his career.

The "Thriller" singer had stipulated in his will that he wanted his mother to care for Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11, and Prince Michael II, 7. But after his death Rowe had seemed to consider challenging for custody herself.


In a surprise move, a lawyer for Jackson's dermatologist, Dr Arnold Klein, said Klein wanted a say on the custody issue because he had "unique interests" respecting the children.

Klein has been the subject of unconfirmed rumors in celebrity media that he was the sperm donor of Jackson's two children with Rowe, a nurse who once worked for him.

Beckloff said however that the "conclusive presumption" was that Jackson and Rowe were the parents and that Klein would have to file legal papers if he wanted to press his case.

Lawyers for Rowe and Katherine Jackson said no money had changed hands as part of the custody agreement. Rowe, who was not in court, will have the right to visit the eldest two children but the frequency will be determined by a child psychologist as she has had little contact with them in the past 10 years.

The biological mother of Prince Michael II, also known as Blanket, has never been revealed.

Rowe's lawyer Eric George told reporters she had "responded with heart, integrity and selflessness" over custody.

Jackson left his estate to a family trust that benefits his mother, children and charities. The precise cause of his death is still awaiting toxicology tests and investigations by police and U.S. drug agents into the possible role of drug use.

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Eric Beech)

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