Sherri Shepherd divorce could test New Jersey surrogacy laws

Hackensack individuals and couples with infertility issues once had fewer choices to become parents than they do today. Assisted reproductive technology created new paths to parenthood using eggs and sperm from prospective parents, donors or a combination of two. As ART advanced, New Jersey courts were forced to deal with new family law issues. Surrogacy is an IRT method employing a third-party “carrier.” The surrogate’s eggs are combined with a prospective father’s sperm or the surrogate is implanted with an embryo to which she has no genetic link. State laws dictate the legal terms of surrogacy. Former television talk show co-host Sherri Shepherd is going through a divorce. Shepherd and her husband Lamar Sally were married in 2011, after signing a prenuptial agreement stating Shepherd would get full custody of any child from the marital union. Sally filed for separation in May in a court on the West Coast and, days later, Shepherd submitted a divorce petition from New Jersey. The filing locations are significant to the divorce and to a child custody issue. A surrogate mother is carrying a child for the couple — a product of Sally’s sperm and a donor egg — with a due date set for later this month. Sally is seeking full custody against the terms of the prenuptial agreement, which the estranged husband wants invalidated. Shepherd alleged Sally knew he wanted out of the marriage before the surrogate’s pregnancy and plotted to secure substantial child support payments by requesting custody. Shepherd, with an estimated net worth of $10 million, said she is no longer interested in becoming the parent of the unborn child. The soon-to-be ex-wife may get her wish — New Jersey courts tend to dismiss surrogate agreements. Parental rights become complex issues when New Jersey couples choose to become parents in nontraditional ways. Legal complications are magnified when these issues coincide with a couple’s divorce. Source: New York Post, “Unborn child faces uncertain fate in Sherri Shepherd’s divorce war” Andrea Peyser, Jul. 14, 2014

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