At the center of it all are the late singer's three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, and who will care for them.
At an emergency custody hearing Wednesday, a California judge gave temporary guardianship to TJ Jackson, the 34-year-old son of Michael Jackson's older brother Tito. The judge suspended Katherine Jackson as guardian of the children, saying she is being prevented from acting as a guardian by acts of a third party.
Katherine, who had been out of reach for nine days while "resting" in Tucson, Ariz., returned to her Calabasas, Calif., home early this morning. In a televised statement to ABC News, Katherine Jackson said she is "devastated" that her late son's children have been "taken away" from her. She said the court ruling that made TJ Jackson the temporary guardian of Prince, Paris and Blanket was "based on a bunch of lies."
But will the return of the 82-year-old matriarch be enough to soothe tensions between the siblings?
The world has been watching as a family dispute over Michael Jackson's estate -- that has put Jackson's children and mother at the center -- is being played out publicly online, on national television, in court and in a videotaped confrontation that authorities are still investigating.
"I think you have a bunch of people who have a lot of different ideas about what should happen with their mother in this situation. It's a complex family dynamic," Katherine's attorney Perry Sanders told ABC News.
So complex, it's hard to keep up. Last week, a letter signed by five siblings -- Jermaine, Janet, Tito, Rebbie and Randy -- challenging the handling of Jackson's estate by his executors circulated on the Internet. In the letter, the siblings accuse the executors of everything from conspiring in their brother's death, to pressuring their mother, to faking the will.
The estate's spokesman responded last week: "We are saddened that false and defamatory accusations grounded in stale Internet conspiracy theories are now being made by certain members of Michael's family whom he chose to leave out of his will. We are especially disheartened that they come at a time when remarkable progress has been made to secure the financial future of his children by turning around the estate's finances as well as during a time when so many of Michael's fans, old and new, are enjoying his artistry through exciting new projects."
The estate spokesman added that the will was validated two years ago when a challenge was rejected in court.
Monday, a scuffle broke out with Trent Jackson, Katherine's nephew and confidant, after Jermaine, Janet and Randy went to Katherine's house reportedly to take the children to see their grandmother in Arizona. Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies were called to the house and spokesman Steve Whitmore told ABC News that deputies are continuing their investigation.
Hours after the scuffle, executors John Branca and John McClain weighed in on the dispute in a letter posted on fan sites: "We are acutely concerned about the welfare of Mrs. Jackson, and most particularly with Michael's minor children. We are concerned that we do what we can to protect them from undue influences, bullying, greed, and other unfortunate circumstances. While we do not have standing to directly intervene, we have monitored the situation and will continue to do so. We believe measures are being put in place that will help protect them from what they are having to deal with."
Tuesday, Tito had a change of heart and said he wanted nothing more to do with the letter he had signed initially. Sources close to the family told ABC News that Tito thought it was bad enough that "his siblings were battling with their mom, but he had to draw the line after TJ spoke with him."
Also Tuesday, Paris tweeted that she hadn't spoken to her grandmother in over a week: "9 days and counting... so help me god I will make whoever did this pay."
Tuesday night, Katherine spoke to the children by phone. "...I spoke to my grandson TJ and also I spoke to Prince and Paris last night and told him I would be home today and they're waiting for me to come," Jackson told ABC News on Wednesday.
But in court, TJ Jackson said Katherine sounded "strange" during the call. "The way it sounded, I never heard her talk like that." He added that "some words sounded slurred" and said "I never heard her use some phrases."
Also Wednesday, Randy Jackson was back on the offensive, telling Robin Roberts on GMA that contrary to media reports, "there was no slapping or calling names," during Monday's confrontation in the driveway of Katherine's estate. He said the reports of family drama are shifting focus "from the questions that haven't been answered -- that this will is a fake."
"This is not about money," Randy continued. "This is my brother and this is about righting a wrong."
Despite a show of unity -- the siblings wrote in their letter, "Before we hit the stage, we were a family and still to this day we are a family. We're not going to let anyone abuse our mother, nor will we tolerate any further attempts to divide us" -- the family is clearly divided.
Click through to see where all the major players in the Jackson family feud stand.
quicklist: 1Title: Tito JacksonText: Although Tito Jackson signed the July 17 letter condemning the executors of Michael Jackson's estate, on July 24, he backed out of the plot to turn Katherine Jackson against them. Sources close to the family told ABC News that Tito Jackson thought it was bad enough "his siblings were battling with their mom, but he had to draw the line after TJ spoke with him." A source told ABC News that when the initial plan to whisk Katherine Jackson off to Arizona was being developed more than a year ago, it took months to get Tito Jackson to get on board. He was reluctant from the start. Media: 16847887
quicklist: 2Title: TJ JacksonText: Tito's son TJ Jackson is the new to guardian of Michael Jackson's three children. The 34-year-old was appointed a temporary guardian in court Wednesday after filing a petition. "I know it's completely unfair for them to do this to you and your brothers. We will keep trying. I love you," TJ tweeted to Paris Monday. Outside court Wednesday, TJ said, "There are only three words I want to say: Always kids first!" When asked if he wanted Katherine Jackson home, he responded, "That too!" TJ is close to the kids and is married with kids of his own. Now in a band with his two brothers, TJ was once Kim Kardashian's high school sweetheart. According to TMZ, Kardashian has told friends that TJ has a "father-like" relationship with the singer's kids, and is "a very honest and trustworthy person and everyone knows he'll do the right thing."media: 16852179
quicklist: 3title: Randy JacksonText: Randy Jackson has helped lead the charge against the executors of Michael Jackson's estate, John Blanca and John McLain. On "Good Morning America," he raised questions about whether Blanca and McLain are telling the truth about when his pop star brother signed his second will.
"The question is on July 7, 2002, they swore under penalty of perjury that the will was signed by Michael Jackson in Los Angeles," he said. "But there is footage that shows on July 7 that my brother was in Harlem with Al Sharpton. He was there the day before and the day after. I want some answers. How come John Blanca and John McLain have not answered that question?"
Randy Jackson previously brought up the July 7 issue in 2009. Randy Jackson also has other ties to the estate. Sources told ABC News that he and his brother Jermaine Jackson asked attorneys for the estate to pay off their overdue child support payments. That request was denied. Media: 16856540
quicklist: 4Title: Jermaine JacksonText: Jermaine Jackson signed the July 17 letter to Michael Jackson's estate along with Janet, Rebbie and Randy Jackson. He and Randy Jackson have maintained a united stance throughout the dispute. Sources told ABC News that Jermaine and Randy Jackson fought with Trent Jackson over Michael Jackson's children at Katherine Jackson's Los Angeles-area house Monday. According to sources, Jermaine Jackson took a "blow to the head."
Jermaine Jackson, along with Janet Jackson, traveled to Tucson, Ariz., to be with their mother, and appeared in Katherine Jackson's televised statement to ABC News. Media: 16847683
quicklist: 5Title: Janet JacksonText: Janet doesn't usually side with her brothers, according to ABC News sources, though she does have a soft spot for Randy. But in this case, she not only signed the letter to the executors, she went with her brothers to her mother's estate to take the children to Arizona, though she left empty-handed. Janet has made it clear that she doesn't agree with all the decisions being made about her niece and nephews. After Paris landed a role in the upcoming film, "Lundon's Bridge and the Three Keys," Janet told Prevention magazine in May, "I think there's a time for everything, and now is not the time [to act in films]. I told her I thought she should enjoy being a kid, possibly go to college -- or not -- but wait till she turns 18. She's a very tough, smart girl. But it's a cutthroat industry. I wouldn't want my child to do it."media: 16848046
quicklist: 6Title: Joe JacksonText: The Jackson family patriarch, Joe Jackson has been noticeably silent throughout the estate and guardianship dispute. Several sources told ABC News that he has been "unable to reach Katherine." He "has tried to stay out of this," sources said, because "Joe doesn't tolerate this kind of thing from his kids and they know that." He has been telling his children to "end it now."
Joe was involved in negotiations about who should raise Michael Jackson's children following the pop star's death. In an interview with ABC News three weeks after Michael Jackson's death, he showed no doubt that he and his wife should raise Paris Michael, Prince Michael, and Prince Michael II.
"Their grandmother, Katherine, and I," he said, when asked who should raise the children. "There's no one else to do what we can do for them. You know, which -- keep 'em all together and-- make 'em happy. And feed 'em like they're supposed to be fed. And let 'em get rest. Plenty of sleep. And grow up to be strong Jacksons."http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/MichaelJackson/story?id=8072081&page=3#.UBARS2HY_Tomedia: 16852705
quicklist: 7Title: Katherine JacksonText: Michael Jackson's 82-year-old mother has been engulfed in the family dispute, with some of the siblings accusing the estate executors of abusing her and even causing her to have a "mini stroke." Her attorney Perry Sanders quickly disputed any reports that Katherine was suffering in her role as guardian. "Katherine Jackson is absolutely capable of taking care of the children and does a terrific job," Sanders said in a statement to ABC News. "She does a phenomenal job, is extremely lucid and not having any difficulties of any consequence." But the siblings say she has told them she feels torn. "She feels, as she has said, 'I'm stuck in the middle,'" they wrote in a letter to executors.media: 16852193
quicklist: 8Title: Trent JacksonText: Katherine's nephew and confidant, Trent Jackson, initially reported her missing Saturday after family members were unable to reach her all week. Later, some of her children released a statement saying the missing person's report was "created by the very person and persons we are trying to protect our mother from." When Randy, Jermaine and Janet showed up at Katherine's estate Monday, the two brothers reportedly got into it with Trent, who was at the house with the children. Sources told ABC News that Jermaine Jackson took a "blow to the head." Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said Monday there was a "scuffle" between two family members at the Calabasas home of family matriarch, but no arrests were made. media: 16848089
quicklist: 8Title: Debbie RoweText: The biological mother of Paris and Prince is reportedly "very concerned" about Katherine Jackson and her children. According to gossip website Showbiz411, when Rowe learned of Paris' tweet about her grandmother, she dropped everything to travel to Calabasas. The website said Rowe has since returned to her Northern California ranch where she is awaiting word from Katherine. A judge ordered that she be notified of the appointment of TJ as temporary guardian.media: 16852692