A paternity battle is brewing over US model Anna Nicole Smith’s new baby, with two men both claiming to be the father of the girl.
Smith’s lawyer and boyfriend Howard Stern says he is the father of Dannie Lynn Hope, born on September 7. Smith and Stern have exchanged non-legal vows and say they plan to officially tie the knot.
However Smith’s ex-boyfriend, photographer Larry Birkhead, says he is the father and has filed a lawsuit demanding that she and the baby return to California for DNA testing. He also wants the baby tested for drugs.
Smith was served with court papers in the Bahamas, Birkhead’s lawyer Debra Opri said.
Two fathers seeking paternity is extremely unusual, experts said.
“Generally, the guy doesn’t want to step forward because he’s going to end up paying child support,” said California-based divorce lawyer Connolly Oyler.
The 38-year-old former Playboy playmate and celebrity widow went to the Bahamas to give birth to Dannie. Three days after Dannie was born, her 20-year-old son, Daniel Smith, died of an accidental lethal combination of methadone and two antidepressants, according to a private post-mortem examination.
Eighteen days after that, Smith and Stern exchanged vows on a catamaran near Nassau but there was no formal marriage. People magazine in the US bought photos of the event and will feature them in its next issue.
Oyler said if DNA testing confirms Birkhead to be the biological father, he can get visitation rights and perhaps even joint custody. He also could get “a huge amount for child support”, based on a formula that compares incomes.
Opri said that Birkhead “truly wants to be involved in that child’s life. This is his first child and he does not want to lose that child. And that’s why we’re doing all this.”
Smith or Stern could not be reached for comment.
Smith has been married twice. In 1985 she wed Bill Smith, her colleague at a Texas restaurant, and gave birth to Daniel before divorcing two years later.
In 1994 she married Texas oil tycoon J Howard Marshall II when she was 26 and he was 89. He died the following year. She has since been embroiled in a legal dispute over his multimillion dollar estate.