Judge Orders Co-Guardianship for Jackson's Kids
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Linda Deutsch, The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A judge on Thursday reinstated Katherine Jackson as the guardian of Michael Jackson's three children in an arrangement that also keeps their cousin as temporary co-guardian.
Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff said during a hearing that an investigator who looked into the children's care found that the late pop star's 82-year-old mother was an excellent guardian and the children love her very much.
"I think the kids are in terrific hands," the judge said. "It appears from the report that Katherine Jackson has done a wonderful job and cares about the children very much."
Beckloff noted that the children, Prince, 15, Paris, 14 and Blanket, 10, also have a close relationship with their 34-year-old cousin TJ Jackson, who was named temporary guardian last week after working closely with Katherine Jackson since Michael Jackson died.
TJ is "incredibly respectful" of the family matriarch and she is respectful of him, the judge said.
Beckloff said he will finalize the arrangement later in the month but for now will issue letters of co-guardianship allowing both Jacksons to make decisions about the children's welfare.
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TJ Jackson's new co-guardianship status is temporary, but the judge could make it permanent when he convenes the next court hearing on Aug. 22.
The shared guardianship plan is apparently designed to remove pressure from Katherine Jackson who was previously named in her son's will as the children's sole guardian.
Perry Sanders Jr., her lawyer, has said the arrangement will allow his client to focus on the children's upbringing and not on home or logistics issues.
A court hearing was held last week after a bizarre episode in which Katherine Jackson was reported missing but later turned up at an Arizona spa with family members.
Beckloff said then that he didn't believe Jackson had done anything wrong but suspended her guardianship duties because she had been out of contact with her grandchildren for 10 days.
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 that was leaked to the media 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 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.
"Mistakes have been made and irrational things have been said on both sides in a highly charged emotional environment," Jermaine Jackson wrote. "It is time for us all to draw a line in the sand and move toward peace, co-operation, love and healing."
He wrote that the family is still raw from Michael Jackson's death, and his mother has endured incredible stress and pressures since then.
Another party to the Jackson family drama, 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 a statement saying the recent turmoil is a private matter and shouldn't be playing out publicly.
Ross and Jackson were longtime friends before his death in 2009.
Ross, who lives on the East Coast, came to California to visit with the Jackson family on Wednesday, Katherine Jackson's lawyer said, adding the singer supports the co-guardianship arrangement.
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