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Shepherd divorce raises complex issue of surrogate arrangement

In Georgia and elsewhere, the existence of surrogate parenting arrangements is causing numerous unprecedented legal conflicts that demand resolution. For example, one celebrity divorce case is raising a complex issue regarding the legal implications of entering into a surrogate parenting obligation. Sherri Shepherd, the former co-hostess of The View, is embroiled in a divorce proceeding with her estranged husband, Lamar Sally.

When they were together, the couple entered into a surrogate parenting arrangement in which Sally's sperm was united with a donor egg to produce a pregnancy.  Shepherd's eggs were found to be not viable so the couple decided to have a baby delivered by a surrogate. The child, Lamar Sally, Jr., was born on Aug. 5.

Sally has assumed custody of the child but it appears that Shepherd is declining to take on the role of the child's mother. It's easy to see what fuels this controversy at its heart. Sally, as primary custodian, can collect substantial child support from Shepherd for the years of the child's minority. The idea makes even more logical sense when it is remembered that Sally lost the right to claim property or spousal benefits for himself due to a prenuptial agreement that Shepherd had him sign.

The issue that the case raises is unique in legal jurisprudence, both here in Georgia and elsewhere. By agreeing to bring a child into the world, does Shepherd have a contractual obligation to live up to the arrangement and assume the role of mother despite the untimely divorce? Shepherd's apparent desire to disavow the parental relationship probably is easier for her to make because her egg was not used  and she did not carry and deliver the child. We'l1l have to wait and see whether the courts will impose an obligation on her to step up and satisfy the responsibilities that she originally promised to perform.  


Source: People, "Inside Sherri Shepherd's Surrogate Baby Drama", Michelle Tauber and Gabrielle Olya, Sept. 17, 2014

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