Father Of Anna Nicole's Baby May Get Less Than Hoped
Father of Smith's baby may get less than hoped
POSTED: 8:50 p.m. EST, February 14, 2007
• At least three men claim to be the father of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter
• With Smith's legal troubles, it's unclear how much money she had
• Lawyers: Paternity may not mean inheritance; any money could be in a trust
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Men are lining up to claim they are the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby. But they could be mistaken if they think paternity will automatically mean a pot of gold.
Instead, they could be stepping into a monumentally complex, multinational legal fight over the child. Moreover, it is not at all clear whether the little girl is a million-dollar baby, as some seem to think.
For all anyone knows, the voluptuous former centerfold, who died at age 39 last week under mysterious circumstances, may have set up a trust or employed some other means of keeping the father of her baby from getting his hands on her inheritance.
Wayne Munroe, an attorney representing Smith's estate in the Bahamas, hinted at just that, suggesting there may be provisions in her will that could undermine any great expectations among potential fathers.
"They may think that you get a finding and a court order and you get to live on the child's money," said Munroe, who has access to Smith's will. "But they are in for a rude awakening."
"They're going to find out this woman was much smarter than they thought," he said. "They will only have the responsibility for maintaining this child."
The question of how much money the child might stand to inherit remains murky. Smith was involved in a decade-long legal battle over the estate of her late husband, oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II.
Smith initially won a $474 million judgment, but it was thrown out on appeal. However, the U.S. Supreme Court said the former Playboy centerfold deserves another day in court. The case is pending.
Smith also made money from a TV reality show and as a spokeswoman for the diet supplement Trimspa. She borrowed money to buy a $900,000 mansion in the Bahamas and she was left with large legal debts involving the drug-related death of her son, Daniel.
"It's a very, very confused case," said Beverly Hills family law attorney Alexandra Leichter. "Whoever is going to claim to be the father had better get a good lawyer in the Bahamas."
That's where little Dannielynn, Smith's 5-month-old daughter, is living with Howard K. Stern, who is listed as her father on her birth certificate and is the executor of Smith's will.
At least three men claim paternity
Stern, Smith's boyfriend, is among at least three men who are claiming to be the father. The others are photojournalist Larry Birkhead, who has filed a paternity claim in Los Angeles, and Frederic von Anhalt, the husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor. He claims he carried on a decade-long affair with Smith. [A former Smith bodyguard has also said he, too, had an affair with Smith, and may be the baby's father.]
Birkhead is pressing for DNA testing of the baby and Smith's body to establish who is Dannielynn's father, and the results would almost certainly settle the question. But the matter is tied up in court.
Normally, there is no need for DNA testing on the mother in a paternity case. But tensions and suspicions are running so high that Birkhead asked for genetic material from Smith to guard against a baby switch.
On Wednesday a Florida judge ordered a morgue not to release Smith's body until that DNA test can be carried out. However, a judge in California rescinded the request that the body be held. (Full story)
A Bahamian judge has issued an injunction preventing the baby from being taken out of the country until the custody case is resolved. Smith's mother, Vergie Arthur, is also vying to be appointed guardian of the girl.
With two states -- California and Florida -- and two countries involved in the legal fray, jurisdictional questions could overwhelm the central issue of paternity.
Many men who father children don't want to be found after they are born. But in this case, there are motives to come forward.
"One is they actually want to raise the child because they love her," said Leichter, who has practiced family law for 34 years and handled her share of celebrity cases. "The other motive is money. You wonder if so many fathers would be coming forward if this was a child born in a tenement on the south side of Chicago."
Munroe sounded weary of the conflicting paternity claims and predicted there will be "a lot of bad behavior" before the matter is resolved.
"Some German chap came into my office today and claimed he is the father," he said.
In the end, however, Bahamian law will apply as long as the baby is living in the territory, he said. Any action in California or Florida courts would have no effect in that nation.