Debbie Rowe will fight for custody of her two children with Michael Jackson, according to KNBC Los Angeles reporter Chuck Henry, who spoke to the pop star’s ex-wife on Thursday morning.
Henry, who said he had a “long conversation” with Rowe, confirmed the woman’s plans to pursue custody of Prince Michael I, 12, and Paris Jackson, 11.
“She told me, ‘Yes I am stepping up… I have to.’ She will try for custody of her children,” Henry said. “And she was still very much grieving this morning and has been, she says, for the last week over the death of Michael Jackson.”
Additionally, Rowe told Henry that she plans to take action to keep Joe Jackson away from his grandchildren.
“She also said she would seek some kind of restraining order if that was necessary to keep Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson’s father, away from the children,” Henry recounted.
According to the Los Angeles Times, eight years ago, Rowe told a Los Angeles court she had the children for the pop star, not for herself.
“I had the children for him. They wouldn’t be on this planet if it wasn’t for my love for him,” she reportedly said in court. “I did it for him to become a father, not for me to become a mother. You earn the title ‘parent.’ I have done absolutely nothing to earn that title.”
And when asked by Henry why the woman planned to step forward now after previously choosing to give custody to the pop star, Rowe reportedly told Henry, “‘We had an agreement. He didn’t keep his end.’”
The pop star didn’t keep his end of the bargain by dying, Henry explained of Rowe’s comments.
”[It] was always her assumption that he would outlive them and when he died… That’s when she decided she had to do something. She told me, ‘They are my flesh and blood. I’m going after my children,’” Henry recounted.
Henry said Rowe had an agreement with her ex-husband that “did allow for visitation,” but Henry said Rowe told him it was “very difficult for her to do.”
Rowe told Henry if she missed a visitation date due to illness or similar reason, “it would be hard to get a makeup date, so it was very difficult to visit the children,” he recounted.
Rowe also told the reporter she would be willing to take care of Jackson’s third child so as not to split up the youngsters.
“She was very much concerned about [not splitting up the kids],” Henry added. “I pointedly asked her about that and she said she would take the child we know as Blanket, Prince Michael II, but she didn’t have any illusions that the court would award her the third child. But she said she would.”
Currently, Katherine Jackson, Michael’s mother, has temporary guardianship of the pop star’s children. She was also named in the star’s will as the person he wanted to have custody.
But according to the LA Times, when reports came up years ago that Katherine Jackson might adopt the children, Rowe was quoted as saying she would “never consent to such a thing. She said she was “certain” that the pop star’s parents “would not properly care for the children.”
In 1999, Rowe gave Michael Jackson sole custody of their two children. Following their divorce, she received an $8.5 million settlement, the LA Times reported. Two years later, she filed a petition to give up her parental rights and admitted to not seeing the children. However she said in court, “I am absolutely around if Michael ever needs me, if the children need me for a liver, a kidney, a hello, whatever,” the paper reported.
When asked what would happen to the children in the event of the pop star’s death, Rowe reportedly said she would not want the children back.
“I am sure he has a wonderful person in mind to take care of them,” she said at the time, according to the paper.
Later, however, Rowe contested waiving her parent rights. While Michael Jackson’s lawyers claimed she was after money, she cited the molestation charges against the singer and his connection to the Nation of Islam.
“Because she is Jewish, Deborah feared the children might be mistreated if Michael continued his association,” the court said, according to the Times.
As previously reported on AccessHollywood.com, the pop star left Rowe out of his will. Jackson left all assets to the Michael Jackson Family Trust. According to documents submitted with the will, Rowe was not a member of the Michael Jackson Family Trust.
On Thursday afternoon, however, an attorney for Rowe said she was still deciding whether to seek custody of her children with Jackson.