PLANO, Texas - The father of a baby girl born after a deadly Collin County crash is making progress with his effort to become the child's legal guardian.
James Gardner and his baby girl finally headed home from the hospital on Wednesday. He says he’s ready to start a new life with his baby girl who is simply known on her birth certificate as ‘November BG.’
“She's doing great,” he said. “And she's beautiful. Oh, she's beautiful. Sorry, I gotta take a deep breath.”
Gardner plans to call his daughter ‘Hadley.’ It was the name his fiancée, Heather Trimble, picked out before she died from her injuries after a deadly crash.
It was a devastating situation complicated because Trimble was still legally married to a man she left three years ago.
“I really don’t think it could get any worse,” he said. “The amount of wrong turns this thing has taken is really mind-boggling. To think that anyone would have to deal with this on top of the original crash.”
Hunter Lewis is a family law attorney who is not involved in the case. He explained why the marriage complicates the paternity issue.
“Because she was married to him at the time of the birth of the child, the actual father, legally speaking, is a presumed father — which is her husband,” Lewis explained.
The attorney says while the husband is known as the presumed father because of the marriage, Gardner is what's known as the ‘alleged father.’
Lewis says Gardner can either file a lawsuit to determine the parent-child relationship or “he could file a document which allows for him to be acknowledging that he is the dad. And the presumed father has the ability to file what's called the denial of paternity saying ‘I'm not the parent and I deny parentage.’”
Gardner says Trimble's estranged husband is cooperative and is granting him power of attorney to allow a DNA test and for Gardner to take the child home from the hospital.
It’s a new life Gardner admits he was nervous about during Trimble's pregnancy. The single dad is now forging ahead and trying to work through his grief.
“That's one of my largest regrets for her is that she couldn't even see Hadley before she went,” he said.
Gardner says he has now hired an attorney to help him work through the legal issues, and the estranged husband is willing to file the necessary paperwork. An emergency hearing on is set for Friday.
Once parentage is resolved, Gardner can then change the birth certificate to reflect ‘Hadley,’ the name Heather would have wanted.