LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Reports are conflicting over whether the Jewish mother of two of the late Michael Jackson’s children will seek custody.
Jackson, the "King of Pop" who died Friday of unspecified causes, and Debbie Rowe are the parents of Prince Michael I, 12, and Paris Michael Katherine, 11. By virtue of having a Jewish mother, they are considered Jewish.
According to London’s Sunday Times, sources close to Rowe said she will not fight Katherine Jackson, the pop star’s mother, for custody of the children, and that she would be satisfied with more access to them.
But Iris Finsilver, Rowe’s attorney, told the Associated Press that she was certain that Rowe would seek custody of the two children. Finsilver had previously confirmed that Rowe was Jewish.
Jackson married Rowe, his former nurse, in 1996, when she was six months pregnant following his divorce from Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of the famed late singer Elvis Presley.
Rowe signed a contract waiving her parental rights after she and Jackson divorced in 1999. She later contested the contract, among other arguments expressing her fears that the children were exposed to the teachings of the Nation of Islam through their nanny and some of Jackson’s siblings.
An appeals court ruled in her favor in 2006, but ultimately the custody battle was settled out of court.
Legal authorities contacted by the Los Angeles Times in general agreed that under California law, Rowe would be likely to regain custody, even if Jackson had designated another guardian in his will.
Jackson had a third child, Prince Michael II, with a surrogate mother whose identity has not been revealed.