, LOS ANGELES, Aug 3 – A Los Angeles judge named Michael Jackson’s mother as permanent guardian of the star’s children, ignoring a surprise late request by the singer’s dermatologist to have a say in their upbringing.
Lawyers for Katherine Jackson and the King of Pop’s ex-wife Debbie Rowe had last week agreed details of custody arrangements concerning children Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11 and Prince Michael II, 7.
But what was expected to be a straightforward court hearing to approve the agreement on Monday took a bizarre turn when an attorney for Jackson’s skin doctor Arnold Klein appeared at the hearing.
Lawyer Mark Vincent Kaplan said Klein was seeking to "have a voice" in arrangements concerning the children.
Asked repeatedly by Judge Mitchell Beckloff to state what Klein’s interest was, Kaplan said it was due to his client’s "longstanding relationship with the children and longstanding relationship with Mr Jackson."
Klein was "not a presumed parent," Kaplan said, although his appearance at the hearing is likely to stir up rumors about whether or not he is the biological father of Jackson’s eldest two children.
In interviews last month, Klein refused to categorically deny that he was the children’s father.
"All I can tell you is, to the best of my knowledge, I am not the father of these children," Klein told ABC television’s "Good Morning America."
Judge Beckloff appeared to disregard Klein’s request on Monday as a move by "nothing more than a concerned friend" before inking the custody agreement.
According to details of the agreement, Katherine Jackson gets permanent custody while Rowe receives visitation rights to Prince Michael and Paris, the two children she bore with Jackson during their 1996-1999 marriage.
The surrogate mother of Jackson’s third child, seven-year-old Prince Michael II, known as "Blanket," has never been identified.
Rowe will receive no money beyond an existing spousal agreement — reportedly worth some 8.5 million dollars — according to the agreement outlined last week in a statement.
The "timing, frequency and manner" of Rowe’s visits would be determined after consultation with a child psychologist, the statement said.
Katherine Jackson,79, was named temporary guardian of her grandchildren at a court hearing in Los Angeles four days after her son’s death on June 25.
A will drawn up by Michael Jackson in 2002 named his mother as the guardian of the youngsters, with Motown legend Diana Ross named as an alternate.
The three children have been staying with Katherine Jackson at the musical clan’s compound since their father’s death.