Michigan residents familiar with the talk show "The View" and its former co-host, 43-year-old Sherri Shepherd, may find it interesting to learn that Shepherd is involved in a complex divorce with her husband, which involves her relinquishing custody rights to the unborn child being carried on behalf of the celebrity couple by a surrogate.
According to media reports, the family law issues surrounding Shepherd and her soon-to-be-ex-husband of three years surfaced when he filed paperwork seeking divorce in May of this year. In his filing, he sought not only full legal, but also physical, custody of the yet-to-be-born child being carried by a surrogate. Apparently, the couple had attempted to get pregnant via in vitro fertilization, but Shepherd had failed to conceive. Thereafter, they had engaged the services of a surrogate to carry their child. However, in this particular case, Shepherd's husband donated sperm to fertilize an egg, which was not Shepherd's.
Following the filing of divorce papers by her husband, Shepherd claims that she was misled by her husband into having a child. She further accuses him of orchestrating the child's birth in order to get child support from her once the child is born. Thus, because she does not want to be involved in a potentially expensive child support situation, she is giving up all parental rights to the unborn child. Furthermore, reports claim that even though Shepherd apparently signed a contract with the surrogate, biologically the child is not hers, because only her husband's sperm was used. Additionally, to make the family law issues surrounding this unique case even more interesting, Shepherd filed her divorce paperwork in a jurisdiction that does not recognize surrogacy agreements. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband, on the other hand, filed his divorce paperwork in another jurisdiction.
In-vitro fertilization and the use of surrogates have offered many couples unable to conceive naturally a chance to have a child. However, even though medical science has made tremendous progress in this area, the law surrounding such arrangement is still in its infancy stages. Surrogacy laws vary from state to state. Thus, for any couple, family or individual who is involved in a family law situation involving reproductive technologies and surrogacy may want to consider consulting with an experienced family law attorney, who can evaluate the implications on child custody and child support should divorce occur and more.
Source: Fashion Times, "Sherri Shepherd Gives Up Parental Responsibilities over Unborn Surrogate Son to Avoid Child Support: Report," Corazon Victoria, July 6, 2014