Celebrity Justice - The FindLaw Celebrities and The Law Blog

Sherri Shepherd Declared Mother of Child Born By Surrogate

It's like an alternate universe episode of Maury. Sherri Shepherd ... You ARE the mother!

Comedian and actress, Sherri Shepherd has lost her maternity battle with soon to be ex-husband Lamar Sally. Reportedly, Shepherd and Sally paid a surrogate $30,000 to carry a child created using Sally's sperm and a donor egg. Sometime before the baby was born, the couple split and Shepherd wanted nothing to do with the baby.

She claims to have no connection to the baby whatsoever, but a judge has ruled otherwise. Shepherd is legally the mother of Lamar Jr., born last August.

Surrogate Protection

While this case may seem like a frivolous squabble among celebrities, it could set a very important precedent.

When two people sign a contract to hire a surrogate to carry a baby, it's important that they stick to that contract. Surrogates shouldn't be left holding the baby when one or both people back out.

Prior to the judge's order, Lamar Jr.'s surrogate was listed as the mother because Shepherd refused to acknowledge the child. As a result, California initiated a child support action against the surrogate to reimburse the state for health insurance and WIC benefits for the baby.

What's Next For Shepherd?

Now that her name is on the baby's birth certificate, Shepherd will need to start paying child support. The two parents will need to go back to court to work out a child support and visitation arrangement.

Each state sets its own criteria for determine child support. However, most states consider the financial need of the child, the income and need of the custodial parent, and income and ability to pay of the non-custodial parent, and child's standard of living before the separation or divorce. When parents share custody of the child, support payments may be increased or decreased in proportion to the amount of time each parent has custody of the child.

It is the parents' duty to support a child. When a child receives benefits, such as health insurance and WIC, from the government because a parent isn't paying child support, the state will file a child support claim against the non-paying parent to reimburse the state for benefits paid. Now that Shepherd is officially listed as Lamar Jr.'s mother, the state of California will likely drop the child support action against the surrogate mother and go after Shepherd instead.

Hopefully, Shepherd and Sally can put their squabbles and drama behind them and focus on the health and well being of baby Lamar instead.

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