TMZ has obtained a ruling from a California Court of Appeal, issued today, rejecting Michael Jackson's claim that Debbie Rowe gave up her parental rights. In the decision, there's a revealing passage from the trial judge who commented on the marriage between Jackson and Rowe.
"It was an arranged deal from the beginning... This was not a mom and dad saying, 'Hey, let's have a family that we're going to raise.'"
The ruling explains that in October, 1999, while they were married, Rowe and Jackson entered into an agreement that Jackson would have sole legal and physical custody of their two children, Michael Jr. and Paris. In 2001, the trial judge issued an order terminating Rowe's parental rights. But the following year, Rowe went back into court arguing that the court's termination order was invalid. The trial judge struck down his own order, admitting he had made a mistake by not appointing independent lawyers for the children. Now the California Court of Appeal has also ruled that the order terminating Rowe's parental rights was invalid. Related document Deborah Rowe Jackson vs. Michael Jackson court documents 2/15/06
Rowe is currently locked in a bitter custody fight with Jackson. In the appeal's court ruling, it states that Rowe took action to get the kids back "because of concerns arising from Michael's criminal prosecution and press reports Michael had associated with the nation of Islam, whose members Deborah believed do 'not like Jews.'"
The ruling continues, "Because she is Jewish, Deborah feared the children might be mistreated if Michael continued his association with the Nation of Islam."
Jackson was cleared of criminal molestation charges last year.
Now that the appeal's court has ruled Rowe did not terminate her parental rights, Jackson has two options: appeal to the California Supreme Court, or do battle with Rowe over custody and visitation.
Rowe's lawyer, Eric George, told TMZ: "It's a good day for Debbie." George added: "Now she can return to the court to seek an appropriate custody order."