When Michael Jackson died, it was generally feared that he’d leave an Anna Nicole Smith-style mess in his wake.
Luckily that hasn’t happened. Michael Jackson lived his life free of Anna Nicole-style controversy, there’s been no Anna Nicole-style mystery behind Michael Jackson’s death and there won’t be an Anna Nicole-style custody battle over Michael Jackson’s kids because they’re definitely his. We’re sure you’ll agree that’s a giant relief.
Wait a minute, Michael Jackson’s life was controversial, his death is a mystery and there’s likely to be the custody fight of the century over his children? Oh thank God for that.
So far the most depressing thing about Michael Jackson’s death has either been the fact that it happened at all, the way that radio stations won’t stop playing Billie Jean a full five days after he died or the tragic lack of any homemade tapestries depicting Michael Jackson as Jesus on the cross being put up for sale on eBay.
But those three things can expect to be blown out of the water any day now, because the world has just remembered that Michael Jackson had three kids and nobody seems particularly sure who they belong to any more. And, credit to Michael Jackson and his estate, that isn’t just depressing news – that’s an award-winning, gold-standard epic level of unbearably depressing news.
At the moment Michael Jackson’s three children – Michael Jr, Paris and Prince Michael – are living with Michael’s mother Katherine Jackson after a court awarded her temporary guardianship yesterday.
That in itself is good news for all manner of reasons – a) in this time of unthinkable loss, the children will fare better in familiar, stable surroundings, b) If the children want to be with someone who looks like Michael Jackson, their best bet is to hang out with a 79-year-old woman, and c) Katherine Jackson brought Michael Jackson up and he turned out OK, didn’t he? – but don’t expect this peace to last for much longer.
And that’s because at lease two of Michael Jackson’s children have a mother, and there’s a very good chance that she’ll start fighting for custody any day now. Technically Michael Jackson’s ex-wife Debbie Rowe signed away all her parental rights to the children in 2006, but that’s probably not going to stop her from having another crack at it now that he’s dead, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
“Deborah Rowe has a biological link and is in a better position than the grandparents,” said Marshall Waller, a certified family-law specialist who practices in Beverly Hills. “The law tends to favor placing the children in the custody of the biological parent. … If she steps up, they would go to her unless the court determines that her guardianship would be harmful to the children.”
So, in summary, Michael Jackson’s kids are either going to end up living with the mother who ditched them for cash three years ago or the grandmother who forced their father into showbusiness as a child to his obvious mental and physical detriment. And that’s just the two oldest kids – nobody even knows who the mother or father of Prince Michael are, so that’s only going to complicate things even further.
But just because his life was a mess, his death is a mess and nobody really knows who his children belong to any more, it’d be wrong to compare Michael Jackson to Anna Nicole Smith. For example, Michael Jackson never married an almost-dead oil billionaire for money. Other than that though, yeah, the comparison sort of stands.