June 27, 2009

Jackson’s ex-wife has kid custody edge

Experts in California child custody law say Michael Jackson's ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, is the early favorite to gain custody of the late singer's three kids.

Rowe settled a legal battle over the rights to the two children she had with Jackson a few years ago following an appellate court ruling in her favor.

According to Saturday's Los Angeles Times, Rowe signed away her custodial rights but not her parental rights to Prince Michael Jr., 12, and Paris, 11. California law prohibits the forfeiture of parental right and allows one parent to reclaim a child regardless of any payoff that has been made.

You can't buy and sell kids, and that is what would have been going on here, explained UCLA law Professor Grace Ganz Blumberg. He would have been buying the kids from her.

UCLA-Berkeley law Professor Herma Hill Kay, however, wasn't as convinced, telling the Times that Rowe winning custody was not a slam dunk.

Further complicating matters is the youngest Jackson, 7-year-old Prince Michael II, who was born to a surrogate mother. The Times said the boy's fate could hinge on the wording of the surrogacy contract and whether or not it specified that California law would prevail, which the experts said would make it difficult for her to claim custody.