Skip to comments.Anna Nicole Dispute Shows System’s Flaws
Posted on 03/14/2007 11:08:35 AM PDT by PercivalWalks
Behind the Anna Nicole Smith circus lies an important truth about fathers rights. The long line of opportunistic men who have lined up to be Smiths babys dad since Smiths death has diverted attention from the cases key fact: photographer Larry Birkhead, Smiths ex-boyfriend, has a legitimate claim to paternity. He has been thwarted for several months by the same legal maneuvers which are often employed to separate fathers from their children.
Long before Smith died and her estate became an issue, Birkhead had filed for a DNA test to determine the paternity of Smiths baby. In December he told the Associated Press, I am the father of Dannielynn and I think this is a crime. I expect to be reunited with my daughter. Birkhead says he and Smith had picked out baby names, shopped for items for the baby, and had put their thumb prints in a baby book as the childs parents. Nevertheless, the baby has lived at the home of Smith and her attorney/boyfriend Howard K. Stern in the Bahamas since birth.
Rather than allow the DNA test, Smith and Stern apparently decided to use a common ploy in paternity casesthey stalled. If the DNA test is delayed long enough, by the time biological paternity is established the judge deciding custody will likely decide that Stern is the babys psychological parent.
Judges are understandably reluctant to remove infants from the care of the only parent or parents theyve known, regardless of actual paternity. Stern is many things, but he isnt stupid. He knows that in child custody cases the baby is like the football in a football gamewhoever has possession is in control.
This tactic is frequently employed in adoption cases. For example, in the highly-publicized Huddleston case in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mark Huddlestons baby boy was adopted out when he was three days old, but Huddleston didnt know the baby existed until two months after his birth. A New Mexico court later found that the private adoption agency hadnt properly notified Huddleston, and had needed to get Huddlestons permission before giving his son away.
Nonetheless, the stall tactic workedby the time the case was finally legally adjudicated, the boy had been with his adoptive parents for over a year, and the judge ruled it was in the childs best interests to remain with them.
Time is running out for BirkheadDannielynn is already over five months old, and once a baby reaches six months it is quite possible to get judges to rule in favor of the psychological parent, rather than the biological one. After a year it becomes practically a slam dunk. If Stern is like most litigants in this situation, he probably already has a mental health professional or two on tap to testify in court as to his bond with the baby. He probably also has extensive video tapes documenting his interactions with the girl.
The way to combat these machinations is for family courts to order mandatory DNA testing of all babies within 30 days of a putative fathers filing for paternity. When these orders are flouted, as they often are, judges must be willing to give their orders teeth by meting out punishments for contempt of court. Moreover, most fathers do not have the legal resources to fight long legal battlescourts must be proactive in resolving paternity claims quickly and correctly.
A father has the right to parent his own child. The Smith case demonstrates how easily mothers and their new partners are able to violate that right.
This column appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Jeffery M. Leving is one of Americas most prominent family law attorneys. Glenn Sacks columns on mens and fathers issues have appeared in dozens of the largest newspapers in the United States.
Paternity is the only thing that matters and yes, from what I gather, Stern's attorneys are heading down the psychological parent route. Swab the baby. Give her to her father and put Stern in prison - for something/anything.
One problem with the article. The authors fail to take into account that Howard K. Stern has kept Anna Nicole drugged to the gills, and that he drew up that will of hers, which she signed under the influence. This isn't your ordinary "screw the rightful father" case.
We won't get into possible homicide charges...yet.
First in succeeding as a 'star'... and now with months of 7x24 news coverage.
Look at the number of post on FR even.
FYI...(can't remember who has the ANS ping list)
"A father has the right to parent his own child. The Smith case demonstrates how easily mothers and their new partners are able to violate that right."
Typical lawyerese. While I agree DNA testing needs to be mightily reinforced, asserting a father's right to parent his own child without recognizing the mother's exact same right is ludicrous and would be an embarrassment to anyone but a politician or a lawyer.
There's an easy way to deal with this. It's called marriage. I don't think that men who father children out of wedlock should have the right to take the children out of a loving family environment, whether it's provided by the mother or adoptive parents.
Hmm. If NASA is pronounced 'nassuh', how do you pronounce ANS?
Rhymes with heinous.
Birkhead will get his baby. Stern, well, he'll get his.
I believe Birkhead wanted to marry her, which is exactly why Stern spirited her away to the Bahamas.
That, and the fact that the baby was obviously going to test positive for drugs.
That's how this appears to be playing out.
Why should the privacy interests of a baby be less valued than the privacy interests of a criminal defendant?
You'll have to ask Howard Stern that; he's the one leading this particular circus.
You are being so judgmental! ;)
I couldn't agree with you more.
Try to pay attention to the FACTS of the case; there is plenty of incidental evidence while she was alive that she had told him he was the father.
Until he brought up the fact that the drugs she was using might hurt HIS baby, things were fine.
I believe the flaws revealed here are those of Anna Nicole Smith and her entourage. Can't wait for that DNA result. Just can't wait. Be ready!
"I would think a stronger statement would be from her to third parties stating that he was the father."
That occurred. Forget who.
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