Robert G. Smith, PLLC

Television star must pay child support for surrogate son

New York residents may know Sherri Shepherd for the seven years she spent as a host on the popular daytime television show 'The View." Shepherd was once again in the headlines on Nov. 27 when it was reported that she had been ordered to pay alimony to her ex-husband as well as child support to care for the couple's surrogate son after losing a contentious legal battle.

Shepherd is unable to bear children naturally, but the couple were able to achieve their goal of becoming parents by entering into a surrogacy agreement with a Pennsylvania woman. The child was conceived using sperm provided by Shepherd's husband and a donated egg. However, things began to unfold for the couple when Shepherd was replaced as a panelist on 'The View," and her husband later sued for custody and child support in 2014.

In a subsequent magazine interview, Shepherd said that she had never really wanted the child, and she refused to allow her name to be placed on the boy's birth certificate. However, a Pennsylvania court determined in April that Shepherd's name should be listed and ordered her to pay child support. The case drew attention due to both the notoriety of its protagonists and the questions it raised about the parenthood of surrogate children and the enforceability of surrogacy contracts.

This case shows how discussions over child custody and support can become extremely contentious, and experienced family law attorneys may urge their clients to make every effort to reach an amicable agreement and avoid the uncertainty of court proceedings. When judges are called upon to settle these matters, they make their decisions based upon what they feel is in the bests interests of the children involved. However, child custody and support arrangements may sometimes be revisited if the situation has changed.

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