Jackson's Mother and Ex-Wife Plot Secret Custody Deal

Although Joe and Katherine Jackson remain married they, they live in different states and lead separate lives. Joe lives in Las Vegas and Katherine lives at the family compound in Encino, Calif.

Michael Jackson also has a third child, 7-year-old son Prince Michael II, better known as Blanket, who was born to an unknown surrogate.

Negotiations are still continuing and no custody agreement has been reached yet. If the secret deal, however, falls through, lawyers said a custody battle in court could be long and nasty.

Despite her self-imposed estrangement, and Jackson wanting his mother to have custody, legal experts said Rowe -- as the children's mother -- had a strong claim to custody.

"As a general rule, a mother would have an automatic right to custody over anyone else unless there is finding that it's detrimental to the children if they're with mom," said Ronald W. Anteau, a family lawyer in California not associated with the Jackson case.

Meanwhile, ABCNews.com has learned that representatives of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services recently interviewed the children at the Encino home of Katherine Jackson.

Sources described the interview as a routine visit.

"This isn't that unusual," said Laurie Levenson, a professor of family law at Loyola University. "It might have been a request by the court. We shouldn't read too much into it."

Child welfare authorities interviewed the children once before, following accusations in 2003 that Michael Jackson has molested an unrelated adolescent boy.

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