LOS ANGELES A judge on Wednesday finalized an arrangement for Michael Jackson's nephew to serve as co-guardian of the late pop star's three children along with the kids' grandmother, who until recently had been solely responsible for their care.
The decision by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff follows recent turmoil inside the famous family over the pop star's estate after grandmother Katherine Jackson was reported missing. She later turned up in Arizona with her eldest daughter and other family members.
But due to her absence from her Los Angeles home, T.J. Jackson, 34, the nephew of the "Thriller" singer, was made temporary co-guardian of Prince, 15, Paris, 14, and Blanket, 10. Beckloff's ruling on Wednesday formalized his position while Katherine Jackson, 82, remains primary guardian.
"It's clear to me the children have a very strong, loving relationship with T.J. Jackson," Beckloff said.
Katherine Jackson's absence last month coincided with a letter sent by several Jackson siblings, including Janet, Randy and Rebbie, to the administrators of the pop star's estate challenging the validity of Jackson's will.
The will placed Jackson's estate under the administration of Los Angeles music executive John McClain and attorney John Branca, and it named Katherine Jackson and the pop star's three children as beneficiaries.
The estate, which includes rights to music and merchandise, generates millions in revenue annually and the administrators each receive lucrative fees for their work.
The dispute and Katherine's absence raised questions about her competence, and there were even accusations she may have been kidnapped by her adult children.
But Wednesday, Katherine Jackson's attorney, Sandra Ribera, reaffirmed that the grandmother is in control and approved of the decision to have T.J. Jackson act as co-guardian.
"Mrs. Jackson is a well-informed, strong woman who makes her own decisions and can't be influenced by anyone when it comes to these children," she said.
In a sworn declaration submitted to the court earlier this month, Katherine Jackson said she did not know her grandchildren were trying to reach her while she was away for about 10 days at a spa in Tucson, Arizona.
(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Bernard Orr)