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Jackson's ex-wife seeks more time with children


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Los Angeles (California)
Justice and Rights
Michael Jackson
Debbie Rowe

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Pop star Michael Jackson's ex-wife wants more involvement in the lives of her children, CNN has learned.

Debbie Rowe, who divorced Jackson in 1999, has been working on a custody arrangement that would greatly increase her presence in the lives of the children she had with the entertainer, a source close to Rowe told CNN.

A "new legal arrangement" could be finalized by the end of this year, the source said.

Rowe is the mother of Jackson's two eldest children, Prince Michael, 7, and Paris, believed to be 5 or 6 years old. The children have lived with their father since the divorce and Jackson has had custody of them.

The source also told CNN that Rowe's decision to pursue the broader role is based "in part" on the current criminal accusations pending against her former husband in Santa Barbara County for child molestation.

"She recognizes the importance of having two parents the children can confide in, and that her children need her more than Michael right now," the source said.

Jackson fired his previous family law attorney, Lance Speigel, of the Los Angeles law firm Kaufman and Young, this past July, CNN has learned. Jackson is now represented by the law offices of Michael Abrams in the Rowe custody matter.

"There has been a changing of the guard," the source said.

Last February, Jackson and Rowe hired a retired judge to help them resolve what was then described as an undisclosed "family law" matter, according to papers that had been filed in a Los Angeles court. The documents, at that time, did not indicate why Jackson and Rowe were back in court.

Former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen M. Lachs is currently hearing the family law matter between Jackson and Rowe. He works with Alternate Dispute Resolution Services, a private company that offers mediation or arbitration services to people involved in civil disputes. His decisions in the case will be binding.

"If you had a high-profile case and you didn't want it to be public, you would come here," ADR Services President Lucie Barron told CNN last February. "If you have a situation where you don't want a lot of adverse publicity or scandal, you come to us because it is totally private. It is completely confidential."

Barron said the hourly amount for an adjudication judge ranges from $350 to $450, or more, per hour.

Jackson, 45, has pleaded not guilty to a grand jury indictment charging him with child molestation for alleged incidents with a boy that prosecutors say took place last year in February and March.

The singer is charged with seven counts of performing lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent, reportedly wine.

Jackson is expected in court this coming Friday when the mother of his current accuser is scheduled to take the stand in an evidentiary hearing.

In 1993, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, investigated allegations made by a 13-year-old boy against the entertainer.

Another boy has also alleged the singer touched him inappropriately over a period of time in 1990 when he was 12 years old, sources familiar with the original investigation told CNN. (Full story)

That boy was the son of a maid working at Jackson's Neverland Ranch. When the mother found out what had occurred, she quit working for Jackson, the sources said

Authorities had hoped to use the boy's testimony to bolster that of the 13 year old who was at the center of the 1993 case.

But the case derailed when that boy decided not to testify and took a multimillion dollar settlement offered by the entertainer instead. No charges were ever filed.

After the case fell apart, the other boy did not want to go it alone, the sources told CNN.

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