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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 April, 2005, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Jackson ex-wife back in spotlight
Michael Jackson and Debbie Rowe
The couple's marriage was unusual even in showbusiness circles
Debbie Rowe, Michael Jackson's second wife and mother of his two children, has been thrust back into the spotlight by the pop star's child abuse trial.

Ms Rowe has lived in relative obscurity since she divorced Mr Jackson in 1999 following three years of marriage.

The prosecution claim the couple's union and the birth of their children were both part of a ploy to improve the pop star's public image.

The claim is denied by Mr Jackson's camp.

Ms Rowe is currently fighting for custody of their two children.

She met Mr Jackson, who denies 10 charges of child abuse and conspiracy, when she worked as a nurse in the office of the pop star's dermatologist.

Michael Jackson and Debbie Rowe
Rowe and her then husband appeared to have happier times in 1997

He was being treated there for a skin disorder.

The pair announced in 1996, to the surprise of his fans, that their relationship was more than just professional as they were to have a child together.

They married while Mr Jackson was on tour in Australia, 10 days after the pregnancy announcement.

Their first child, Prince Michael, was born in 1997, followed by a daughter named Paris Katherine in 1998.

'Irreconcilable differences'

The two appeared to live apart for much of their relationship, with Rowe in California while Jackson brought up the children mainly in Europe, with the help of a team of nannies and nurses.

By 1999, the couple decided to split. Their divorce was announced, with "irreconcilable differences" cited.

They were said to have remained close friends.

When Mr Jackson had a third child, Prince Michael II, in 2002, the mother's identity remained a mystery, but the singer denied it was Ms Rowe.

The child hit global headlines when he was just nine months old, when his father caused an outcry by dangling him out of a hotel window in Berlin, in front of the world's press.

Outrage at documentary

Despite the publicity surrounding Jackson and his family, Ms Rowe, has appeared keen to shun the limelight. However she made her most notable public appearance in February 2003.

It came in the wake of British journalist Martin Bashir's controversial documentary about the singer, which resulted in allegations questioning his relationship with children.

The programme sparked outrage when it was shown around the world.

In the wake of the furore, Mr Jackson hit back with his own documentary taken from his own footage of when he was interviewed by Mr Bashir.

Ms Rowe appeared in her ex-husband's film, and cried during her interview, admitting she had a "non-traditional" family and said her children were her gift to Jackson.

Custody fight

"My kids don't call me mom because I don't want them to," she said. "These are Michael's children."

In an agreement signed in 2001, Ms Rowe waived all access rights to their children, but later went to court to have that decision reversed.

In 2004, after Mr Jackson's arrest on the charges currently against him, she began legal action against her ex-husband for custody.

She will give evidence against her ex-husband when she takes the stand in Santa Maria.

Mr Jackson also generated great public interest when he married Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie in 1994.

The couple insisted they were in love but split in 1996, also citing "irreconcilable differences".


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