Jackson children custody dispute likely to reach court


In the wake of a family dispute that spilled into the media, the living arrangements and guardianship of Michael Jackson's three children are expected to be determined by an upcoming court hearing.

A lawyer representing Katherine Jackson, the pop superstar's 82-year-old mother, said he will file legal documents that would make the children's cousin TJ Jackson a co-guardian.

The plan appears designed to remove pressure from Katherine Jackson, who was named in her son's will as the children's sole guardian.

Perry Sanders Jr., Katherine Jackson's lawyer, said the arrangement will allow his client to focus on the children's upbringing and not on financial or logistical issues.

Legal papers outlining the plan were expected to be filed on Thursday in Los Angeles. Superior Court Judge Michael Beckloff is likely to order a hearing regarding the agreement.

TJ Jackson, 34, was appointed as temporary guardian in a court hearing after a bizarre episode in which Katherine Jackson was reported missing but later turned up at an Arizona spa.

Judge Beckloff said last week that he did not believe Katherine Jackson had done anything wrong but suspended her guardianship duties because she had been out of contact with her grandchildren for 10 days.

She returned from her trip hours after last week's hearing replaced her with TJ Jackson as guardian of Prince, 15, Paris, 14, and Blanket, ten.

The new agreement would call for TJ Jackson to remain a co-guardian, with control over the staff and day-to-day operations of the home where Katherine Jackson and her grandchildren currently live.

The changes in guardianship come on the heels of family dissension over Michael Jackson's will, which left nothing to his siblings when he died three years ago.

Several of them signed a letter which was leaked to the press alleging the will was a fake and calling on executors of the estate to resign.

The dispute at one point led to a driveway confrontation involving several family members at the Calabasas, California, mansion where Katherine Jackson and the children have been living.

On Wednesday, Jermaine Jackson issued a plea for peace in the family and withdrew his support of the letter.

He said he regretted the public turmoil that resulted from his mother's recent trip and believes subsequent matters regarding his mother and the children should be handled privately.

"Mistakes have been made and irrational things have been said on both sides in a highly-charged emotional environment," he wrote.

"It is time for us all to draw a line in the sand and move toward peace, co-operation, love and healing."

Singer Diana Ross, who was named by Michael Jackson in his will as a potential guardian of the children if Katherine Jackson was not available, issued her own statement saying the recent turmoil involving Jackson's children and the appointment of a temporary guardian is a private matter and should not be played out publicly.