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Divorce issue centers on custody of future baby by surrogacy

Sherri Shepherd is a co-host of The View on national daytime television. Her three-year marriage to Lamar Sally is on the rocks and the subject of divorce actions filed by both parties. The case has some of the typical bells and whistles that celebrity breakups and divorces can bring to the public eye. This case, however, contains an unusual issue regarding child custody and support that may be important in the developing jurisprudence of child custody law, both nationwide and in Georgia.

Sally, in his filing on May 2, asks for custody of the parties' unborn child that they have commissioned by way of surrogate delivery. The baby will be named Lamar Sally, Jr., and he's expected on July 28, according to the complaint. Now that the parties are separated and moving toward divorce, it raises the interesting question of who gets custody.

Normally, the law favors the mother when the child is still a baby. It's debatable how secure the "tender years" doctrine is, however, after decades of revolutionary changes in how the law views gender differences. In this case, the mother will not be delivering the child, which adds an unknown twist to the plot.

Furthermore, the financial issues may have something to do with Sally's strategy in asking for custody at such an early date. Sally is restricted by a prenuptial agreement signed by the parties at the inception of the marriage. He is reported to be seriously limited in what he can request in the event of a divorce. Nonetheless, he has asked for spousal support and legal fees from Shepherd.

The interesting aspect of his request for custody is that it raises issues of child support. In Georgia and other states, the parent with primary custody of the child is entitled to collect child support payments from the other parent until the child reaches adulthood. Given Shepherd's financial success, this could be for a lot of money. It thus appears that bitter lines are opening for this contentious divorce battle. Just to confirm that point, Sally has also asked the court to strike down the prenuptial agreement due to fraud.

Source: People, "Sherri Shepherd's Husband Files for Separation, Seeks Custody of Their Unborn Child", K.C. Blumm, May 9, 2014

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