Jackson Judge Orders Probe into Children's Welfare
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge on Friday ordered an investigation into the well-being of Michael Jackson's children and a lawyer for the family matriarch said she will move to share guardianship of the children with the adult son of Tito Jackson.
Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff told a court investigator to interview the three children independently and provide a report for review only by the judge, not attorneys involved in the case.
The order does not spell out a reason for the investigation, but it is likely intended to give the judge another perspective on how Jackson's children are coping after a week of family turmoil that included the absence of their grandmother and a dispute in the driveway of their home amid a feud over the estate of the pop superstar.
The court investigator was ordered to interview the children at school at a time to remain undisclosed. Beckloff received a similar report a few weeks after Jackson's death in 2009 and its contents remain sealed.
Beckloff said during a hearing earlier this week that there were no indications that Katherine Jackson had done anything wrong.
Under the proposed guardianship change, the 82-year-old Jackson would share oversight of the children with Tito Jackson's son in a deal that would relieve her of some of the day-to-day stresses of managing a famous family, her attorney Perry Sanders Jr. said.
The decision was made after a meeting between Katherine Jackson and Sanders on Thursday. He said Michael Jackson's eldest son has told attorneys he approves of the arrangement.
A formal filing for co-guardianship is expected next week. If approved, it would make Tito Joe "TJ" Jackson a co-guardian of the children — Prince, Paris and Blanket — who range in ages from 10 to 15. TJ Jackson's attorneys suggested the co-guardianship arrangement in a filing Friday. It states that if either adult guardian dies or is unable to serve, the other will act alone in raising the children.
Under the plan, responsibility for managing staff and security at the home would shift to TJ Jackson. Katherine Jackson would keep control of a family allowance worth tens of thousands of dollars a month, Sanders said.
"Mrs. Jackson is extremely pleased with the prospect of enjoying the pleasure of raising Michael's children without the day-to-day tedium of items such as managing the large staff that goes with such a high-profile family and focus her attention on being a grandmother and raising Michael's children," Sanders wrote in a statement.
"She is eager to simply enjoy her great relationship with these children, while deeding over some of the stressors that go hand in hand with being a guardian," he wrote.
TJ Jackson, 34, is the children's first cousin and performs with his brothers in the group 3T.
Beckloff on Wednesday suspended Katherine Jackson's guardianship duties temporarily and appointed TJ Jackson as temporary guardian. The judge said he would likely re-instate Katherine Jackson as guardian upon her return.
Katherine Jackson had been at a Tucson, Ariz., spa since July 15 with her daughter Rebbie and other relatives and had not spoken to her grandchildren during that time. She returned to the Los Angeles area on Thursday.
"The minor children are very attached to (TJ Jackson) who has been very involved in their lives since the death of their father," TJ Jackson's attorneys wrote in the court filing. "Recent events have highlighted the need for continuity for the minor children."
The filing was required by Beckloff, but Sanders said it would be superseded by a joint petition next week.
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