13 August 2012
Child Law Solicitor Cara Nuttall discusses Parental Responsibility in relation to Paris and Prince Jackson
There have been numerous reports over the last week that Debbie Rowe, the mother of Paris and Prince Jackson, Michael's eldest 2 children, has indicated that she will consider seeking Custody (or Residence as we term it here in England) if reported problems and fighting in the Jackson family camp continue.
The case highlights of number of interesting legal issues and ones which whilst unusual, are becoming increasingly common in modern society where more diverse family units exist.
The first is the tension between a Child's biological parent and their psychological and social parent. Whilst Ms. Rowe is the Children's biological mother, if reports are accurate she has had only a very limited involvement in their upbringing and has not held a parental role in the way that Michael did and other members of the Jackson family have (it is alleged that she effectively signed over her Parental Rights when she and Jackson divorced in 1999). Many people assume that a Child would or should always live with their own flesh and blood in the event of a dispute, but the law as it stands makes it clear that will not always be the case, and that there are many other factors which need to be taken into account when deciding what is the best arrangement for the Child in question.
The case also raises the issue of half-siblings and the Separation of siblings as Michael's youngest child, known as Blanket, is not Ms. Rowe's child. According to reports, she would not be seeking custody of him, meaning that the siblings would be raised separately and this is something that the courts may be slow to consider as being in the best interests of the Children, especially given what they have been through together in recent years.
At present the Children are reported as being cared for under a shared care arrangement between Michael's mother, Katherine Jackson, and his brother, TJ. Again, it is not unusual now for Children to be cared for by Extended Family members, but this can raise difficult legal issues in the event of a dispute. In the Jackson case this could then become more complicated still if the Children's 'back-up Guardian', Diana Ross, also feels the need to intervene.
Of course, one of the worst possible outcomes for any Children involved in Custody/Residence disputes is to be aware of and embroiled in conflict, or to have prolonged uncertainty as regards their future. It is hoped that the reported difficulties can be quickly overcome and what could be an extremely difficult and complex legal battle avoided.
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