Paternity, custody, burial, residence—three weeks after Anna Nicole Smith's death and the scorecard still reads 0 for 4.
And there appears to be no quick resolution to the tug-of-war over the custody and burial of Smith's remains, which got further bogged down in the Florida legal system Tuesday.
Virgie Arthur, Smith's long-estranged mother, formally staked her claim with the state's 4th District Court of Appeal Tuesday, only to be met by more resistance from both Howard K. Stern and Richard Milstein.
Arthur is seeking to have the higher court overturn the pass-the-buck ruling made by Judge Larry Seidlin last Thursday, in which the probate judge granted custody of Smith's supposedly decomposing remains to five-month-old Dannielynn via Milstein, her court-appointed guardian ad litem.
Seidlin gave Milstein sole discretion of where to bury Smith's body and, for a fleeting few hours Thursday afternoon, all parties seemed to be in agreement that Smith should be buried alongside son Daniel in the Bahamas.
However, the following day, Arthur filed an emergency motion to block Smith's remains from being removed from the Broward County medical examiner's office, where they have been kept since her Feb. 8 death, pending her appeal of Seidlin's ruling.
On Monday, Seidlin refused to reconsider his decision, but the 4th District Court of Appeal was more amenable, approving Arthur's request for a stay and giving other parties until 2 p.m. Tuesday to lodge any challenges to the appeal.
Which they did, in droves.
Milstein filed an appeal asking the thee-judge panel to uphold Seidlin's ruling granting the Miami lawyer next-of-kin status on behalf of Dannielynn. Attorneys for Stern also filed an appeal, seeking to prevent Arthur from being granted custody of Smith's remains.
"This case presents the tragic circumstances of Anna Nicole Smith's untimely death and the sad irony of her estranged birth mother's efforts to place her in death where she never wanted to be in life," Stern's attorneys wrote.
The appellate panel will hear arguments on Wednesday. There's no word on when the judges are expected to rule, but Stern appears confident of a victory. E! Online has learned he is already inviting guests to attend a funeral ceremony in Nassau set for Thursday.
Meanwhile, there is negligible movement in the Bahamas on who should be granted custody of five-month-old Dannielynn, currently in the care of Stern. Los Angeles photographer Larry Birkhead has claimed paternity and has filed legal claims in California, Florida and the Bahamas. Arthur also asked the Bahamian authorities to grant her custody, but she was turned down Monday.
Over the weekend, Stern showed dramatic signs of lowering his resistance to Birkhead's paternity claims, allowing him to spend one-on-one time with Dannielynn.
In an interview with Access Hollywood, which aired on the Today show Tuesday, Birkhead shared how he fed, burped and was thrown up on by Dannielynn.
Birkhead said he knew all along that Dannielynn was his daughter, and seeing her simply confirmed it.
"She's mine. That's my baby. She looks like me—she is mine," he added.
TMZ is also reporting that attorneys for the two men are hashing out a settlement that might result in Stern dropping his claim to paternity in exchange for a percentage of Smith's estate.
Should a deal be brokered, it may make moot other pending litigation.
Birkhead is currently waiting to hear back from a Florida family court judge on an emergency motion filed Friday to obtain and test DNA samples from both Smith and Dannielynn to establish paternity. Judge Lawrence Korda has yet to rule on whether he will comply with a California order to release Smith's DNA (a sample of which has already been taken). First, Korda says he must decide if he even has the jurisdiction to do so.
Meanwhile, Stern was granted something of a legal reprieve Monday in a separate legal battle over the ownership of Horizons, where Stern lived with Smith and currently resides with Dannielynn.
South Carolina real estate mogul and former Smith paramour G. Ben Thompson says he never gave the property to Smith, as she and Stern claimed, and is seeking to be declared the owner. But Stern won't be facing any eviction notice just yet—the Bahamian judge presiding in the case has scheduled another hearing for mid-March.