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Video: Birkhead: 'I'm the father'

By Senior legal analyst
msnbc.com
updated 4/11/2007 1:05:24 PM ET 2007-04-11T17:05:24
LEGAL ANALYSIS

We now know that Larry Birkhead is the biological father of Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern as he has maintained all along, despite the fact that another man's name is on her birth certificate.   Even though Anna Nicole named Howard K. Stern as her daughter's father, Larry never gave up his fight for his baby girl. 

And it seems his fight may be over soon. He just has one more foe to fend off— Virgie Arthur, the maternal grandmother.

It is believed that regardless of paternity, Arthur plans on fighting for custody of Dannielynn. Howard K. Stern has said that he will not fight Larry for custody, but that together, they will join forces to prevent Virgie Arthur from gaining custody.  

The test for parenthood is not solely biological. But even so, it seems likely Birkhead would win a custody battle over Virgie Arthur. The legal standard the courts apply is what is in "the best interests of the child."  Highly doubtful that Virgie Arthur would pass that test over Larry Birkhead. It would surely be pointed out that her skills at motherhood are questionable when one looks at the life led by her daughter, Anna Nicole. And her other son is reportedly a convicted felon who served time for aggravated kidnapping. The law typically favors a parent over a grandparent, unless the parent is proven unfit. And there is no evidence to suggest Birkhead is anything other than a fit parent.

So when do father and daughter go home?  Not so fast. The child cannot leave the Bahamas until the court rules on Arthur's petition for custody. A hearing is set for this Friday in the Bahamas.  I predict her motion will be swiftly denied.  Next, the court has to lift its current order which forbids anyone from removing Dannielynn from the Bahamas.  After that, assuming Stern hands over the child as he said he would, father and daughter will be free to fly home. Birkhead has said he is building a nursery for his daughter. Whether he is looking to line up child care depends on whether he has to work for a living. 

And all this brings us to the question of the money. Dannielynn's guardian must be able to use her money for her maintenance and support. If Dannielynn has a fortune of her own, her parent will have access to her fortune to raise her. Perhaps babysitters need not apply.

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