A Los Angeles judge has ordered a paternity test to determine the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s 3-month-old daughter Dannielynn Hope, PEOPLE has learned.
The ruling, which was revealed on Thursday, came in a lawsuit filed by freelance photographer Larry Birkhead, who claims that he – and not Smith’s fiancé Howard K. Stern – is the father of the infant.
“If I was on anybody’s Christmas list, they can scratch me off because this is the best Christmas present I could have ever received,” Birkhead told PEOPLE. “I’m one step closer to beginning a relationship with my daughter.”
Smith’s lawyer, Ron Rale, declined to comment on the details of the ruling, but claimed the judge “threw out 80 percent of their case.
“This isn’t nearly the end of the story,” said Rale.
Smith, 39, has been residing with Stern, 38, in the Bahamas, where she gave birth to Dannielynn on Sept. 7. Three days later, her 20-year-old son Daniel died in Smith’s hospital room.
The former Playboy pinup and Stern returned to the U.S. last week for a hearing in San Francisco in her effort to collect an inheritance from her late husband, oilman J. Howard Marshall II. It’s not known whether the baby was with them.
Smith and Stern, who is Smith’s longtime lawyer, exchanged vows in a Sept. 28 commitment ceremony. Stern has claimed to be the girl’s father, which he revealed that month on Larry King Live.
Smith’s ex-flame Birkhead, 33, countered by filing suit demanding that Smith and the child return to the United States to submit to genetic testing.
According to sources, Superior Court Judge Robert A. Schnider ruled that the parties in the case will have to work out whether the tests will be done in the United States or in the Bahamas.
The whereabouts of Smith and Stern are unclear.