Deal Sought To Avoid Custody Fight Over Anna Nicole Smith's Baby Girl

Friday, April 13th 2007, 10:34 am
By: News On 6

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) _ Custody negotiations over Anna Nicole Smith's baby daughter intensified behind the scenes as a court confrontation loomed Friday between the late Playboy Playmate's mother and former boyfriend.

An agreement on joint visitation could avert a closed hearing scheduled for Friday afternoon to decide custody of 7-month-old Dannielynn, who could inherit a fortune from her mother's estate.

Lawyers for Larry Birkhead, who is the baby's father, and Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, met privately on Thursday.

Birkhead, a California photographer who discovered he was the girl's father when DNA test results were disclosed on Tuesday, said he would not share custody of the baby girl, but hoped to avoid a court dispute. Arthur's lawyer said she would fight for joint custody if talks fail.

``We intend to proceed on that application unless something else comes along that causes us not to have to take that course of action,'' attorney Debra Rose said.

Arthur says wants access to her granddaughter and believes an agreement was possible with Birkhead, whom she called ``a good guy.''

The baby has been living in an oceanfront home with Smith's former companion, Howard K. Stern, who was listed on the birth certificate as the father but gave up his custody claim after the DNA results were released.

Smith gave birth to Dannielynn in September in a Bahamas hospital, days before her 20-year-old son, Daniel, died from a lethal combination of drugs at her bedside. Smith died in Florida in February at age 39, also from a lethal combination of drugs.

Legal wrangling continues over the estate of Smith's late husband, the Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, who died in 1995. It remains unclear how much, if any, of the $500 million estate Dannielynn could obtain and whether her guardian would have access to the money.