Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., known as Prince -- Jackson's first son, was born in 1997. Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, his daughter, was born in 1998. And Prince Michael Jackson II, known as Blanket, a second son, was born in 2002. Blanket is the child Jackson held over a balcony in an infamous baby-dangling incident.
Longtime Jackson busines associate Ken Ehrlich, who was with Jackson the night before he died, told Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez Friday, "It was pretty amazing to watch (Jackson) with them because you could see the love both ways. That's what struck me (Thursday, after word of Jackson's death spread) -- once you got through some of the other stuff. It's about the kids."
Their ages, and Jackson's possible fortune, could intensify the custody question, Entertainment Tonight's Kevin Frasier observed on The Early Show Friday.
Jackson family attorney Brian Oxman says the children "are with the nanny. They're being cared for. Mrs. Jackson (Katherine, their grandmother) loves them. She takes care of them."
Jakcson's death "will be probably the start of a long battle," Oxman told Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. " ... We will have to see how that plays out in a court of law. I suspect that the death of Michael Jackson is only the beginning of the legal battles over not only his property, but also his children."
Frazier pointed out that Debbie Rowe, Jackson's second wife and mother of the two oldest, is clearly a candidate. She and Jakcson divorced in 1999.
"I don't talk about being a parent," Rowe remarked to ET in 2004, when she let the show into her home. Because of a reported confidentiality agreement at the time, she didn't talk about the kids or about Jackson.
"My family it's off limits to everyone," Rowe continued.
In 2005, Rowe battled Jackson over custody and eventually was allowed shared custody of the children.
But back in 2004, it was, as Frazier put it, "obvious she was a woman living in some kind of fear."
"My big fears, I can't talk about, and I wouldn't," she said. "And my biggest fear is that those fears happen."
As Frazier's report aired on The Early Show Friday, Rowe hadn't issued any statement about Jackson's death or the situation with the children.
Frazier said, "The kids are in line to inherit (Jackson's apparent fortune), so it will be very interesting to see if the birth mothers ultimately get custody and control."
Oxman told Smioth Friday he "worked on the case involving Debbie and Michael and the divorce. I've handled six divorces in this family. I always liked Debbie Rowe. And it is my experience in a court of law that, when one of the parties passes away, there's always a claim of a natural parent.
"So, whatever the contracts were and whatever the agreements were, there is always the prospect of legal proceedings, and how successful the outcome, boy, oh, boy, it is your guess and my guess. We just don't know, and we'll have to watch it play out as it does all by itself."
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