Many of our readers are familiar with the saga of actress and former co-host of "The View," Sherri Shepherd and her ex-husband with whom she had a child via a surrogate when the two were married. When the marriage broke up, Shepherd attempted to have her name removed from the baby's birth certificate and the surrogacy contract voided.
Now an appeals court has upheld the contract and ruled that she be listed as the child's legal mother on the birth certificate. She also needs to continue paying child support to her ex-husband Lamar Sally, who is raising the child in Los Angeles. Sally, who is a substitute teacher and writer, has been receiving monthly payments of $4,100 to take care of the 1-year-old.
The court ruled that Shepherd "freely entered into the gestational carrier contract" and that the baby "would not have been born but for (her) actions and express agreement to be the child's legal mother."
Shepherd paid the bulk of the cost to hire the surrogate. The baby was conceived with a donor egg and Sally's sperm. However, when the couple experienced problems in their marriage, Shepherd reportedly changed her mind about the child. The surrogate was in her second trimester at the time.
During the couple's contentious divorce last year, Sally said that Shepard wanted nothing to do with the child. After the latest ruling, he repeated that, saying, "She doesn't want to be part of his life." He added that he would "be parent enough for the both of us."
The case was heard in a Pennsylvania court because that's where the surrogate lived. This is the first time a court in that state has ruled on whether a surrogacy contract is valid. Courts in different states have varied on these rulings.
California courts have consistently upheld surrogacy agreements. If you are considering hiring a surrogate, it's important to obtain the guidance of a family law attorney with experience in handling these agreements.
Source: USA Today, "Court rules Sherri Shepherd must support her son born to surrogate," Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press, Nov. 24, 2015