Michael Jackson's ex-wife, Deborah Rowe, won a round in her battle over their two children, with an appeals court ruling that her parental rights were not properly relinquished under the law.
The California 2nd District Court of Appeal ruling Wednesday set the stage for further litigation between the former couple.
The pop star, who has been living out of the United States since his acquittal on molestation charges last June, could further appeal the ruling. He is reportedly traveling with his children in Italy.
Jackson had no immediate comment on the ruling, publicist Raymone K. Bain said Thursday.
Jackson and Rowe married in November 1996 and filed for divorce in October 1999 after the births of son Prince Michael and a daughter, Paris. Jackson also has a son whose mother hasn't been identified.
While acknowledging Rowe initiated the proceeding to give up her parental rights in 2001 and made clear she wanted Jackson to have sole custody, the appellate court said the judge in the matter did not handle it properly.
The retired judge, Steven M. Lachs, acknowledged in 2004 that he failed to have state officials do an independent investigation into what was in the best interests of the children.
Lachs voided his own ruling even though he had found in 2001 that the arrangement was in the best interests of Paris and Prince Michael.
Jackson subsequently filed to prevent the judge from voiding his earlier ruling.
"A court cannot enter a judgment terminating parental rights based solely upon the parties' stipulation that the child's mother or father relinquishes those rights," the appeals court said, reports AP.
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