(LOS ANGELES) — A California judge Wednesday made Tito “TJ” Jackson permanent co-guardian of Michael Jackson’s children along with their grandmother Katherine, but not without some unexpected drama.
A woman claiming to be the cousin of Michael Jackson showed up in court Wednesday to ask the judge to delay the appointment of TJ Jackson as permanent co-guardian of the singer’s children.
Despite a plea from the woman, Debra Jackson, Judge Mitchell Beckloff granted TJ Jackson the motion to share guardianship with Michael’s mother, Katherine Jackson, of the three children.
The judge made the ruling after also considering a letter submitted by singer Diana Ross, in which the singer said she has met TJ and thinks he has good intentions in caring for Michael’s kids.
Beckloff said Ross mentioned in the letter that she is very interested in what happens with the children and that she takes her role in the will as the next guardian in line very seriously.
Earlier, Beckloff heard from Debra Jackson, who arrived with her adult son Anthony Jackson, whom she says the singer helped raise after Anthony’s father died. Earlier, Debra and Anthony Jackson submitted a letter to the court expressing their concerns with appointing TJ co-guardian.
Debra Jackson told the judge that she and her son were abruptly cut off from the lives of Michael’s three children and that their relationship with the kids had been curtailed. Debra said that not allowing a relationship between her son and Michael’s children is “cruel and not in their best interest and well-being.”
She described an incident at a birthday party for one of the children in which she and Anthony were asked to leave. She said Katherine Jackson was very unhappy with that order and neither Katherine nor the kids wanted them to leave.
Debra added that she’s asked several times for an explanation as to why they have been cut off from the children, but she was never given one.
The letter Debra and Anthony submitted to the judge Wednesday was written last year around Christmas time. It’s unclear why they waited so long to file the letter.
Beckloff said he had read and taken their letter into consideration, since the two are relatives. However, he added that he has a very good understanding of what’s going on with Michael’s children based on the report written by his investigator.
“It’s clear to me that the children have a very strong, loving relationship with TJ and that they love the grandmother very much,” the judge said.
He then granted the motion for permanent co-guardianship to TJ.
The son of Michael’s brother Tito Jackson, TJ had been appointed temporary guardian after Katherine Jackson was suspended amid a bitter family dispute over Michael Jackson’s estate. Days later, Katherine Jackson was reinstated as guardian and announced she would be seeking joint guardianship with her grandson, TJ.
Responding last month to the announcement, Randy Jackson, one of Katherine’s sons, told ABC News that the agreement was based on “lies.”
“In order to obtain temporary guardianship, TJ lied to the court. Rebbie, Janet, Jermaine and I would never harm our mother and we are doing our best to protect her and the Estate knows that,” Randy said in an exclusive statement to ABC News.
“The same people that are trying to manipulate my mother are the same people that were involved with my brother when he died,” Randy said in the statement. “The Estate is trying to isolate my Mother from her family JUST LIKE THEY DID TO MICHAEL, in order to propagate their lies, financial agendas and to protect a fraudulent will.”
He concluded his statement with, “It is my fear and belief, that they are trying to take my mother’s life.”
In court Wednesday, Beckloff asked Katherine’s attorney Sandra Ribera if she was being unduly influenced to agree with the new co-guardianship agreement, to which Ribera replied “absolutely not! Ms. Jackson is well informed, makes her own decisions and wholeheartedly supports this arrangement.”
The judge also ordered TJ to consider visitation between the kids and Anthony and Debra. However, he told Debra that the final decision lies with the co-guardians.
“You have a right to be heard as relatives, and I’m going to be mindful of what I heard,” the judge said. “There have been lots of conflicts within the family, and the duties of the guardians consist of navigating through these conflicts and helping the children maintain important relationships.”
Only TJ and the attorneys were present for the hearing. Beckloff had previously excused Katherine and the children from having to appear.
Also not present in court was a woman named Billie Jean Jackson, who claims she is the biological mother of Blanket. Judge Beckloff said she filed a petition requesting guardianship of Blanket and that he scheduled a hearing for the end of September.
TJ’s attorney, Charles Shultz, argued that the judge had already found Billie Jean has no biological relationship to Blanket, but Beckloff said he will have to hear her arguments one more time.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Nate Sunderland, EastIdahoNews.com
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Noelle Baldwin, Deseret News