By Tom Tugend
LOS ANGELES – The chances that Michael Jackson’s two oldest children would celebrate their b’nai mitzvah during the next two years were always pretty slim, but they have been just about eliminated by an agreement between the late pop icon’s mother and his ex-wife.
Lawyers for both sides announced an agreement Thursday that Katherine Jackson, 79, Michael’s mother, will be named guardian of her grandchildren, while Debbie Row, 50, Michael’s ex-wife and the children’s mother, will have visitation rights.
There were earlier reports and speculation that Rowe would contest the custody of her children, Prince Michael,Jr., 12, and Paris Michael Katherine, 11. Under California law, which favors the biological mother, Rowe might well have succeeded.
Rowe, who is Jewish, had previously ceded and reclaimed her parental rights. In one court hearing, she expressed concern that the influence of the Nation of Islam on Jackson might harm her children, given the organization’s anti-Jewish bias.
No money is to change hands as a result of the agreement, which is expected to be approved in Los Angeles Superior Court next week.
The divorce settlement between the singer and Rowe, which was finalized in 2000, awarded Rowe $8.5 million, and Jackson sole custody of the children.
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