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Court says Shepherd is legal mother of surrogate child

If you're a long-time follower of our blog, then you may have read our post about Sherri Shepherd, a former host from the show "The View," which appeared on our blog near the end of May last year. In the post, we explained that Shepherd was embroiled in two separate child custody disputes. While the first dispute involved accusations of neglect, the second case involved a family law issue that was far more complex: custody over a surrogate child.

For those who may be wondering, a Pennsylvania judge has finally weighed in on the issue nearly a year later. The fact that it took so long should illustrate to our Worcester readers just how complex some family law issues can be and why legal representation is oftentimes a necessity.

At the center of Shepherd's second child custody case was a difficult question: could Shepherd relinquish her parental rights by opting out of a surrogacy contract already in motion? Although Shepherd argued that she should be able to because of her pending divorce with her then husband Lamar Sally, the court disagreed, recently ruling that she would remain the surrogate child's legal mother.

Even though the surrogate child is not biologically related to Shepherd, the court's decision makes her the legal mother, which establishes parental rights. Now that her and Sally are divorced though, this also means that she may have to pay child support, as well as alimony to her ex-husband.

Even though the decision in this case was made outside of our jurisdiction, it wouldn't be farfetched to say that Massachusetts courts might take just as long to make a decision because of the complexity of the issue this case presents. It certainly goes without saying that if a case like this were to present itself here, representation from a lawyer would be highly advised.

Source: People Magazine, "Inside Sherri Shepherd's Surrogacy Ruling: What Happens Next," Emily Strohm and Dian Herbst, April 22, 2015

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