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In California, Paternity Dispute Over Who Is The Father Of Anna Nicole Smith’s Child May Go To Court

In Los Angeles Superior Court this month, photographer Larry Birkhead filed a paternity lawsuit demanding that Anna Nicole Smith return to the United States with her one-month-old daughter Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern. He also wants the baby take a paternity test.

Birkhead claims he is the father of the baby girl and is asking for physical and legal custody. He is accusing Smith of going to the Bahamas to have the baby in order to avoid custody and visitation talks.

Smith claims that her attorney Howard K. Stern is the father of her baby and has named him on the child’s birth certificate. She and Stern were married in a non-binding commitment ceremony.

Under California law, any man who is said to be the father of a child is legally entitled to a paternity test to prove that he is the father.

The American Pregnancy Association lists the following types of postnatal and prenatal DNA tests:

Postnatal (after your child’s birth) DNA testing:
· Blood collection and testing
· Buccal swab (cheek swab) collection and testing
· Umbilical cord collection and testing
· Other sample collection and testing (semen, tissue, hair, etc.)

Prenatal (before your child’s birth) DNA testing:
· Amniocentesis: This test is performed in the second trimester, anywhere from the 14th-20th weeks of pregnancy. During this procedure, the doctor uses ultrasound to guide a thin needle into the uterus, through the abdomen. The needle draws out a small amount of amniotic fluid, which is tested. Risks include a small chance of harming the baby and miscarriage. Other side effects may include cramping, leaking amniotic fluid, and vaginal bleeding. A doctor’s consent is needed to do this procedure for paternity testing.

· Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS): This test consists of a thin needle or tube which a doctor inserts from the vagina, through the cervix, guided by an ultrasound, to obtain chorionic villi. Chorionic villi are little finger like pieces of tissue attached to the wall of the uterus. The chorionic villi and the fetus come from the same fertilized egg and have the same genetic makeup. This testing can be done earlier in pregnancy from the 10th-13th weeks. A doctor’s consent is needed to do this procedure for paternity testing.

By law, paternity must be legally established. This means that if a child’s father was not married to the mother at the time of the baby’s birth, the law will not recognize him as the father unless proof of paternity is legally proved.

A Declaration of Paternity is a legal document that says a man is a child’s natural father. This document, when signed by both parents, allows a man to be considered the child’s legal parent and-once paternity is legally established-entitles him to have parental rights and responsibilities over a child.

The Law Offices of Scott Sagaria handles paternity cases and other Family Law issues in the counties of Santa Clara, Monterey, and Alameda. Contact The Law Offices of Scott Sagaria for a free consultation.

Birth Certificate Names Stern The Father Of Smith’s Baby, People.com, October 11, 2006
Larry Birkhead V. Anna Nicole, Nationalledger.com, October 3, 2006
Larry Birkhead, The Post Chronicle.com, October 3, 2006
Paternity Testing, American Pregnancy Association
Paternity Opportunity Program, Child Support Services

Related Web Resources:

Paternity Acts in California and Michigan, menstuff.com
California Paternity Law FAQs