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Michael's Mom Gets Kids, Cash; Estate Still Out of Family's Control

Katherine Jackson, Prince Jackson, Paris Jackson, Blanket Jackson HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images;

That's a few down, who knows how many more to go.

A judge has signed off on Katherine Jackson and Debbie Rowe's custody deal, naming the grandmother permanent guardian of Michael's three kids and allowing Rowe visitation rights.

"It's in the best interest of the minors," Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff said. The judge also granted an unspecified allowance to Katherine to cover the children's costs.

Consent forms signed by both Paris and Prince Michael, indicating that they want to stay with Katherine, were presented in court.

The decision came down after an unexpected—and unexplained—objection to the arrangement from Dr. Arnold Klein, Jackson's longtime dermatologist (and long-rumored biological father of the children).

Klein's attorney said the objection over the kids' education and medical decisions came from nothing more than a concerned friend, but the judge overruled his objection on the basis that Klein had no legal standing.

A follow-up hearing on the custody arrangements has been set for Oct. 2 to "review the circumstances of the children" and make sure the custody deal is going according to plan.

As for the children's allowance, the payments will be disbursed from Jackson's estate retroactive to his death. The filing was sealed, and the exact sum was not disclosed. However, the judge noted that he made the children's stipend 83.5 percent of what was requested. Katherine's allowance will be reviewed in six months' time.

"It is not my intention to deprive the kids of anything that they're entitled to," Beckloff said, explaining that he simply wanted to understand exactly where the money was going.

The next hearing on the children's payments has been set for Jan. 11, 2010.

Prior to a 30-minute recess, one of Katherine Jackson's attorneys, Diane Goodman, told E! News that her client was pleased with how things were so far proceeding.

"Katherine is doing fine," she said.

And this must be what they mean about stars colliding: A hearing on the conservatorship of Britney Spears, originally scheduled to take place this afternoon, was canceled as several of the attorneys who rep Jamie Spears are also involved in Jackson matters. The Spears hearing was planned for 1:30 p.m.

Along with Klein and Jackson (and an estimated 25 attorneys), Rebbie, LaToya and Randy Jackson were present in the courtroom to provide moral support during the lengthy custody and estate hearings.

While Beckloff signed off on a few of the legal filings this morning, there is still much to be dealt with, not the least of which is whether Mama Jackson or the two attorneys named in the King of Pop's will should have the final word over Jackson's finances.

Various issues that were intended to be broached during today's hearing, which ended a little before 3 p.m., will be taken up next Monday, Aug. 10.

Here's a breakdown of what's been settled and what's still to come in today's hearing:


Custody: Per last week's agreement, Katherine Jackson will maintain custody of Paris, Prince Michael and Blanket. Rowe will get visitation with Paris and Prince Michael, and the kids will receive any psychological assistance they need to deal with their birth mother reentering their life. The psychologist will determine the length and frequency of Rowe's visits.

Monthly Allowances: Undisclosed amounts will be deducted from estate funds for both Katherine Jackson and Jackson's children. Katherine's payments will continue for six months, at which time they will be reviewed. Documents filed in connection to the allowance request on Friday confirmed that Jackson's life insurance policy was paid out and received by a trust being handled by the attorneys.

• Will: The judge officially admitted Jackson's will to Probate Court in order to start the 120-day clock on the distribution of property and assets (After a will is admitted to court, parties have 120 days in which to file formal objections as to the validity of the document). Katherine Jackson's attorney did not object.

• Finances: Judge Beckloff granted an immediate payment of $30,000 to Michael Charles LaPerruque, a security specialist who worked for Jackson between 2001-2004 and 2007-2008, and to whom Jackson went into default on his payments.

• Control of the Estate (Short-Term): Branca and McClain will remain executors of Jackson's estate for at least another 60 days. There needs to be someone "at the helm of the ship" to deal with creditors, Beckloff said.

• AEG Contracts: The concert promoter behind Jackson's would-be 50-show London run reached a settlement with Jackson's estate, though the terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The company filed several documents with the court on Friday requesting to be named as an intervener in all future contract matters. Branca said the deal included merchandise and rehearsal footage of the ill-fated comeback concerts and Beckloff said that Katherine Jackson will have access to review the contracts.

AEG was previously seeking to prevent her from accessing the documents without a confidentiality order, which would have prevented her, in turn, from sharing the documents with police.

AEG today agreed to share the contracts with detectives investigating Jackson's death if they so request (the Jacksons previously voiced suspicions about secretive contracts between AEG and Branca and McClain). The agreement has been sealed pending Beckloff's approval, which will or will not be given next Monday.


• Ultimate Control of Estate: Katherine Jackson has previously tested the waters on whether she could legally challenge attorneys John Branca and John McClain's special administrator status without challenging the whole of her son's will—which she would be wise not to do as it not only provided for her financially but paved the way for her to take sole custody of her grandchildren. Katherine's attorneys have already floated the term "conflict of interest" in connection to the attorneys (namely with the AEG contracts), and claimed in the past that some of Jackson's records have not been made available to them.

Beckloff advised the executors' attorneys to come to court Aug. 10 with as much discovery material as possible. Katherine's legal camp, meanwhile, says it plans to file a safe harbor petition outlining their possible issues with Branca and McClain.

• Deals: Branca and McClain are seeking to broker deals that would flush new money into the often cash-strapped estate. One such deal to rerelease Jackson's autobiography Moonwalk has already been signed off on, and the attorneys may seek the judge's permission before proceeding on other negotiations.

"The Special Administrators are in the process of creating significant value for Michael Jackson's beneficiaries—his three children, his mother Mrs. Katherine Jackson and the charitable causes that were so important to him during his lifetime," attorney Howard Weitzman said. Katherine and her attorneys signed a confidentiality agreement so that they can review info pertaining to any business transactions.

"Mrs. Jackson and family are very pleased with the outcome in court today," attorney L. Londell McMillan said. "We're anxious to put this matter behind us. The law allows Mrs. Jackson the right to assert her claims to protect her son's estate and legacy. We shall pursue such rights by all appropriate means."

(Originally published on Aug. 3, 2009, at 8:25 a.m. PT)


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