Anna Nicole Smith Custody Hearing Delayed; Arthur, Birkhead Set to Meet
NASSAU, Bahamas – A custody hearing in the Anna Nicole Smith case was delayed Friday until next week to give the late Playboy Playmate's estranged mother and the father of her baby more time to negotiate a private visitation arrangement.
A lawyer for Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, said Arthur would meet privately on Saturday with Larry Birkhead.
"No lawyers, no press, nothing," said John O'Quinn, an attorney for Arthur. "They are going to figure out what they believe is in the best interests of the child and try to get it done."
According to O'Quinn, Birkhead and Arthur will try to agree upon a custody solution that the court will ultimately "like and approve." The judge agreed Friday to postpone the hearing to determine who should get custody until April 20.
Arthur says she'd like access to her granddaughter, 7-month-old Dannielynn, and believes it's possible to strike an agreement with Birkhead. She calls him a "good guy."
Another attorney for Arthur said Thursday that she would continue to seek joint custody of the baby 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.
Howard K. Stern, Smith's companion who is listed as the child's father on the birth certificate, has said he hopes Birkhead gets full custody.
On Friday, he said the transition of parenthood has already begun, adding that Birkhead is "doing a great job."
Meanwhile, the auction of two diaries written by Smith in the early 1990s will go ahead Saturday in Dallas despite Stern's claim that they're stolen property. Stern wants the diaries returned to her estate.
Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas obtained the journals from an anonymous German businessman who purchased the items on eBay for more than $500,000 several weeks ago.
The diaries, from 1992 and 1994, cover a range of topics, from Smith's love for her late husband, octogenarian oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, to concerns about her eating.
Doug Norwine, Heritage Auction Galleries' director of music and entertainment memorabilia, said opening bids will start at $20,000, and he expects both to fetch as much as $100,000.
Birkhead: There's Only One Dad
On Wednesday, Birkhead said he doesn't plan to share legal custody of the baby, a day after a court announced that DNA tests proved he is the father.
Birkhead, accompanied by his relatives, visited Dannielynn several hours after Tuesday's announcement of the DNA test results, "Entertainment Tonight" reported. The former boyfriend changed his daughter's diaper and fed her apple sauce with some coaching from Stern, the program reported.
Stern has been caring for the baby since Smith's sudden death in February.
Birkhead said Wednesday he did not want another legal fight.
"We might go from one fight to another, but I'm hoping that's not the case because, you know, there's only one dad, and I have no problem with anyone that has good intentions being allowed to visit the baby and see the baby and be a part of the baby's life," he told NBC's "Today" show from the Bahamas.
Birkhead said, however, he has no intentions of sharing custody of the child.
"It would imply that I'm unfit as a parent, which I'm not," the Los Angeles photographer said. "I'm looking forward to giving Dannielynn everything that she needs and all the love and support."
Stern said Tuesday he loved the baby despite the DNA results and would support Birkhead.
"I'm obviously very disappointed, but my feelings for Dannielynn have not changed," he said, adding of Birkhead: "I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure he gets sole custody."
Birkhead said he believes Stern gave up his custody fight because he wants what is best for Dannielynn. He said the "dirty laundry" being aired in the courtroom is "something the baby could see one day."
Birkhead, who broke up with Smith before she moved to the Bahamas in July, had been seeking custody of Dannielynn for months.
The baby could potentially inherit millions from the estate of Smith's late husband, J. Howard Marshall II. The former model had been fighting the Texas oil tycoon's family over his estimated $500 million fortune since his death in 1995, and that battle remains unresolved.
It remains unclear how much, if any, of the Marshall estate Dannielynn could ever hope to obtain, and whether her guardian would have any access to the money.
Even Smith's own estate remains unresolved. A 2001 will released after her death in February said her fortune should be held in trust for her son, Daniel, but he's dead now. The 19-page will named Stern as her executor, but did not say how much Smith was worth or how much her daughter might inherit.
Nassau has been transfixed by the Anna Nicole saga since she moved there last year. Smith gave birth to Dannielynn in September, only to see Daniel die days later at her bedside from a lethal combination of drugs. Smith died on Feb. 8, at the age of 39, also from a deadly mix of prescription drugs.
Smith's mother said Tuesday that she wanted to be present in her granddaughter's life, but seemed appeased by the DNA results.
"I'm happy that Dannielynn will know who her real father is," she said.
Although fatherhood will be a new role for Birkhead, he has said it is one he is prepared for.
"She's got lots of toys and a nursery ready for her and she's got everything she's going to need. All I have do is just give her the love," he told the "Today" show.
Birkhead has said he met Smith, a former Playboy Playmate, at a Kentucky Derby party in 2003 but that they didn't start dating until he saw her at the same event the following year.
She had lost weight, was much friendlier than she had been the year before and invited him to accompany her to other events to take photos "and one thing led to another," he told FOX News Channel's Greta Van Susteren in January.
"We had, you know, even though it sounds like we battled and battled, but we had a great time in our relationship," he told Van Susteren.
Birkhead has said that he and Smith remained together until May 2006 when she was five months pregnant with Dannielynn.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.