Janet Jackson and Wissam Al Mana: How Their Billion Dollar Interfaith Divorce Could Play Out When It Comes to Custody
Legal and religious experts weigh in on how Janet Jackson and Wissam Al Mana's respective faiths will affect their co-parenting
Janet Jackson and Wissam Al Mana plan to raise their 3-month-old son, Eissa, together despite their recent split – but experts tell PEOPLE that the pair’s cultural differences may affect their co-parenting.
One religious expert says that it’s “not really possible” for the parents to raise Eissa as both a Jehovah’s Witness (which Jackson grew up in but said she didn’t identify with) and a Muslim (Al Mana’s religion).
“The children issue is always the biggest issue,” Dr. Rita George-Tvrtkovic, a theology professor at Illinois’ Benedictine University, tells PEOPLE.
The pop star and the Qatari businessman wed in 2012. News of their breakup broke earlier this month, with a source telling PEOPLE that the separation happened shortly after Eissa was born in January.
George-Tvrtkovic says co-parenting would be “a lot easier” if Jackson and Al Mana decided on just one faith to raise the child under. And this could be the case, as a source told PEOPLE that Jackson often tried to adjust to her husband’s culture.
“For years, Janet tried to adapt to his culture. Since it’s not a culture she grew up with, it’s been challenging for her. She often felt she disappointed Wissam,” the source previously explained. “The cultural differences between her and Wissam became even more obvious [after Eissa arrived]. They come from very different worlds.”
The expert adds that the fact that the family lives in London makes the religious aspect of their divorce and custody matters much simpler.
“If this couple was in a Muslim country then it would be totally different, the rules of co-parenting would be different,” George-Tvrtkovic says. “But in England the laws are very secular and they probably won’t have many problems.”
One source says, however, that legal matters regarding custody may become tricky if Jackson decides to live in the U.S.
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“It’s a tough situation when you’ve got somebody like Janet Jackson, her home is the United States — ideal place to bring up a child,” Paul Wright, an English barrister (who is not representing Jackson or Al Mana) tells PEOPLE. “But you don’t want to harm the husband.”
Wright notes that the U.K. court system tries to “involve both parents on an equal as possible basis.”
He adds: “The courts want both of the parents involved in the child’s life. The child’s best interest is paramount.”
Wright says the matter of income could come into play in the event of a custody battle. However, that may not be a huge concern as both Al Mana and Jackson have both amassed personal fortunes.
Al Mana is reportedly worth $1 billion and a celebrity estate attorney tells PEOPLE that Jackson is likely worth up to $250 million.