Final Resolution to Custody Battle Over Jackson Kids



Although the infamous Michael Jackson died nearly three years ago on June 25, 2009, the custody battle for his children has raged on. Jackson left three minor children, Prince, 15; Paris, 14; and Prince Michael II, 10. Katherine Jackson was appointed guardian of the children after Jackson’s death in 2009. However, the judge suspended her guardianship after she was recently reported missing. According to Jermaine Jackson, Katherine was not in any danger but rather was resting in Arizona. Two family members have been fiercely battling for custody of the children, Jackson’s mother, Katherine, and the son of his brother, Tito. Apparently the two have reached an agreement to share guardianship. At the age of 82, Katherine will be relieved of daily responsibilities such as management of household personnel and the security team.

According to her attorney, Perry Sanders, “Mrs. Jackson is extremely pleased with the prospect of enjoying the pleasure of raising Michael’s children without the day-to-day tedium of items such as managing the large staff that goes with such a high profile family and focus her attention on being a grandmother and raising Michael’s children.” As her co-guardian, Tito has enjoyed a close relationship with the children for the majority of their lives and has been solely responsible for their care in Katherine’s absence. Margaret Lodise, the court-appointed guardian ad litem for the children, has confirmed that the custody agreement is agreeable to all the Jackson children.

One can only become a guardian of a minor child in San Diego through court appointment. A guardian is a person, over the age of 18, who is responsible for the care of another. A child’s parents are the preferred guardians followed by other relatives. However, the controlling factor in deciding to appoint a guardian is the best interest of the child. The “best interest of the child standard is evaluated based on a number of factors listed in California Family Code section 3011. In contrast to an adoption, a guardianship does not result in a legal a parent-child relationship. As a general rule, the guardianship will last until the child reaches the age of 18 unless the court determines that such guardianship is not in the child’s best interests.

As we have previously blogged, there are two types of guardianships, Guardianship of the Person and Guardianship of the Estate. Jackson left his entire estate to care for his mother and his three children. He intentionally excluded his father and siblings who have in turn attempted to challenge this distribution. Although Jackson died with over $500 million in various debts, his estate continues to earn millions in profits. It is clear that Katherine and Tito will at least be guardians of the persons of the minor children. However it is unknown whether their role will also encompass managing the children’s finances.

Please contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only lawyer in San Diego County representing clients in divorces, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

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