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Surrogacy arrangement creates child support question

There are a number of ways for Minnesota parents to have children in this day and age. Just because a women is unable to conceive naturally does not mean that she cannot have a biological child. In vitro fertilization and surrogacy are just two of the methods that some moms and parents turn to in order to have children. Although the medical procedures may be well established, the laws surrounding surrogacy are still relatively new.

In a surrogacy arrangement, an individual or a couple asks a fertile woman to carry a child. Generally, the surrogate mother carries the baby until delivery and then relinquishes parental rights and responsibilities to the individual or couple who initiated the agreement. Although each situation might look slightly different, the surrogate mother usually terminates all parental rights or a pre-birth court order can identify the child's biological parents.

Actress and daytime TV show co-host, Sherri Shepherd, is in the middle of a tricky surrogacy situation. She and her estranged husband, Lamar Sally, used a surrogate mother to have a baby. The couple used Lamar's sperm for the procedure so the baby does not have any genetic connection to Shepherd.

The couple is now going through a divorce and Shepherd apparently does not want any connection with the unborn baby. She also does not want to pay any child support. Shepherd claims that Sally tricked her into agreeing to the surrogacy knowing that he planned to end the marriage all along. Shepherd even filed her divorce petition in New Jersey, which does not recognize surrogacy agreements and might reinforce the rumors that she does not want parental rights or support responsibilities for the child.

Parents do have obligations to support their children but surrogacy complicates the matters, especially if a judge can order one of the parties involved with the agreement to have no parental right or responsibilities. When divorcing spouses encounter family law issues, they should seek independent advice so they can protect their interests in the situation. Furthermore, this will ensure they take the necessary steps to address these issues.

Source: Michigan Chronicle, "Baby Battle: Sherri Shepherd Refuses To Pay Child Support For Surrogate Baby?," Sonya Eskridge, July 6, 2014

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