NEKESA MUMBI MOODY
The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) -The attorney for Michael Jackson's mother says an announcement is imminent on a custody deal regarding the pop icon's two oldest children, but stopped short of saying an agreement had been reached.
L. Londell McMillan said in an interview with The Associated Press that word of an agreement between Katherine Jackson and Deborah Rowe, the biological mother of Prince Michael, 12, and Paris-Michael, 10, would come sometime Thursday.
McMillan has previously said any agreement will be in the best interest of Jackson's children. He declined to go into specifics and would not address reports about what kind of visitation Rowe would get, if any.
E-mail messages sent to Rowe's attorney seeking comment Thursday were not immediately returned.
Michael Jackson, who died June 25 at 50, was the sole parent to his three children. He was married to Rowe, but both had described the relationship as borne out of a friendship and said that Rowe had given birth to his two oldest children as a "gift" to Jackson. They divorced after Paris-Michael was born and Rowe was largely absent in her children's lives. His third child, 7-year-old Prince Michael II, known as Blanket, was born to a surrogate and the mother's identity has never been revealed.
In Jackson's will, he expressed his desire to have his mother take care of his children. But after he died, Rowe expressed interest in raising not only her two children, but Blanket as well. In a phone interview with television station KNBC, she also said she would seek a restraining order against Joe Jackson, Michael's father; Michael Jackson had a complicated relationship with him and often spoke of beatings at the hands of his father.
After Mrs. Jackson, 79, was named by a court as the children's temporary guardian, Rowe won a delay in a guardianship hearing while she decided whether to seek custody. Other hearings were delayed at the request of both parties, and McMillan had described the negotiations between both sides as very cordial.
While McMillan would not discuss details of any agreement, he did say no money exchanged hands. Rowe has taken legal action and demanded retractions as other reports have claimed that she was seeking money from the Jacksons in exchange for dropping any attempt at custody of the children.
Michael Jackson gave Rowe a financial settlement after they divorced in 2000 and she relinquished her parental rights. But they were reinstated by a judge in 2005 after Rowe went to court over the children. The custody dispute was settled in 2006. Terms were not disclosed. Jackson retained primary custody of the children.
All three children have been living with Katherine Jackson since their father's death, where they have been surrounded by their aunts, uncles and cousins.