Family Law Expert Tells ABC News How Courts Might Address Questions of Child Custody, Paternity, Inheritance and Liability

From ABC News, February 10, 2007: Anna Nicole Smith Left Tangled Legal Web.

ABC News' Law and Justice Unit asked prominent family law professor Jeff Atkinson at DePaul University College of Law for a quick overview of the web of legal issues that follow Anna Nicole Smith's death.

Atkinson, who also works with the American Bar Association and the National Conference of Commissioners Uniform States Law, offered his thoughts on how the courts now will handle the legal battles over the fortune of Smith's deceased husband, J. Howard Marshall, and the custody of Smith's infant daughter, Dannielynn. Multiple people claim they fathered Dannielynn, including Smith's former boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, and her companion, Howard K. Stern.

The questions Prof. Atkinson addresses include:
Would a will signed by Anna Nicole decide custody of Dannielynn?
Was Anna Nicole married at the time of her death?
What law decides who will have custody of Dannielynn?
What court has jurisdiction to decide the custody and paternity of Dannielynn?
What happens to the dispute over the estate of J. Howard Marshall?
What happens to the legal claims against TrimSpa and Anna Nicole?
As he is quick to note, however, all the facts are not yet known and the law in many instances will turn on the facts.